Newsoms mayor resigns at town council meeting

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Newsoms Acting Mayor/Vice Mayor Harvey Porter, who was expected to resign last month as the condition of dismissal of a lawsuit, resigned during Monday evening’s town council meeting.

“It’s been my pleasure to serve the community of Newsoms, Virginia, faithfully as a member of the town council for almost 16 years. Due to the recent distractions, I feel that my resignation will allow me to use this time that have been devoted to town matters to catch up on personal matters that have been neglected. This would also allow the new leadership to concentrate on what they deem is best for the citizens of the town of Newsoms.”

The lawsuit, dismissed by Southampton County Judge Carl Eason Jr., was brought on by six Newsoms residents who were requesting reinstatement of the town’s police department, a permanent injunction prohibiting town council from acting on any matters in a closed meeting and the appointment of a special commissioner to observe town council meetings and audit town accounts. They alleged that the town, and Porter both individually and in his official capacity, engaged in negligent, grossly negligent, wanton, intentional and/or criminal acts and/or accepted negligent or grossly negligent legal advice contrary to the town’s best interest.

Town attorney Tim Drewry said on Friday that Porter, who was in the town offices at that time conducting usual business, had not resigned.

“This was a complete dismissal based on an agreement that has been drafted by [Porter’s attorney Mike Lockaby] and has been circulated to [attorney Jack] Randall’s office,” Drewry said. “It is my understanding that they’re waiting on Mr. Randall’s clients to all sign it. Then, once that agreement is done, that satisfies whether he is to resign or not … He’s going to be here Monday night, presiding over the [town council] meeting. Unless that agreement is signed, he is still presiding.”

Randall confirmed that the six residents had not yet signed the agreement.

“We’ve got an order, it just hasn’t been endorsed yet,” Randall said. “We have to get everyone in here to sign it. But, it was my understanding that he was supposed to resign following the court date.”

Porter, who cannot run for an elected office for five years as part of the conditional agreement, said that he was planning to retire from town council for some time.

“I told people two cycles ago that I was getting ready to get out of the business of the town. I ran last time as a council member to slow the pace down and be of assistance should anyone ask for it,” said Porter, who assumed the role of acting mayor in August 2015 after former mayor Kenneth Cooke resigned.

“I was in the process of slipping out. I’m 75 years old. I am ready to turn it over to the young guns.”