La Crosse mayor has no plans to resign, wants to focus on town issues
Following a brief incarceration stemming from a misdemeanor violation of protection order charge, La Crosse Mayor James “Jay” Spence has been released and is ready to tell his side of the story and clear up any rumors and misinformation that circulated while he was away.
Following a disagreement with his wife at the end of July, Spence had a protective order placed against him. He was violated for sending a text message.
“The message wasn’t even anything bad,” he said.
Spence pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge and was released from being incarcerated on Aug. 10.
Following Spence becoming incarcerated at the end of July, at the August town council meeting in La Crosse council took a questionable vote regarding him being removed as mayor.
Councilman Mike Clark made a motion, saying, “I would like to make a motion for a vote of no confidence and have the mayor to resign for the reasons that he is (1) incarcerated at Meherrin River Regional Jail and (2) his inability to perform his duties and (3) the embarrassment he has caused for the town.”
Other council members agreed, with councilman David Williams being the only vote against the motion, which passed 4-1.
While La Crosse councilman Tom Tanner holds firm that the vote was simply to ask the mayor for his resignation, others in attendance at the meeting took it a different way.
“Everybody that was there at that meeting has come up to me and said that ‘the (South Hill) Enterprise was right, the newspaper had it right the first time,’” Spence said. “I went back and read all the stuff myself. They thought they were being sneaky about it, but that’s not what they did. Everybody knows.”
Spence thinks the council changed its tune once it realized its action was not in accordance with the law.
Furthermore, he said nobody ever actually asked him to resign.
“Nobody tried, at all, to contact me when I was incarcerated,” Spence said. “No one approached me about anything. What they did was very unprofessional altogether. They took their personal opinion of me and put it before the good of the town, instead of finding out what the citizens wanted to do about the situation. The issue had nothing to do with the town. It was a personal, family issue. Before they did anything they should have at least waited for the court date to see if I would have been found guilty or not. They really should have contacted the town attorney first, before the matter was even brought up in public in the council meeting.”
Spence said Williams was the only council member who wanted to wait and see what the verdict would be.
“He stood up and did what was right,” Spence said, adding, “David is the only one who called and talked to me about the issue, and that was the second or third day after I was out.”
Spence said he has no plans whatsoever to resign the position of mayor.
“The people of La Crosse have come to me and asked me not to,” he said.
Spence feels like he came under attack from fellow council members because of hard feelings stemming from the three-way election in which he won the mayor’s seat.
“The whole thing is ridiculous,” he said. “They have acted like a bunch of kids in high school, instead of focusing on town business.”
Spence says there is plenty of town business to focus on, namely the water drainage issue that has plagued the town for years. A handful of La Crosse citizens were in attendance at the August council meeting to discuss that very issue.
Spence said now that he is back, he plans to tackle the issue head on, along with several others including the water and sewer system as well as the budget. Spence said these issues have been on is “to-do list” since beginning as mayor July 1.
Spence said the drainage issue can be remedied by cleaning out a ditch that runs along several citizens’ private property. He intends to have the town contact the property owners and acquire signed documentation granting the town permission to go onto the property and clean debris from the ditch.
“That will solve the whole problem,” Spence said. “It won’t take two hours to take the backhoe and clean out that ditch. Once it’s been cleaned out, it’s done. We won’t have any more problems.”
Spence said he is glad to be back and able to direct the focus where it needs to be — fixing issues within the town and listening to citizens.
Editor’s note: La Crosse Mayor Jay Spence composed the following letter to the people of La Crosse.
I would like to apologize to the people of La Crosse for my brief absence. There was a personal family issue that had an unforeseen snowball effect to it. God has helped fix this issue, and our family is doing very well now.
I would also like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers.
As for the actions and comments of several of the members of the town council, I am appalled at the fact that instead of focusing on the issues with the town, they chose to focus on their own personal strife with me based on no factual evidence.
Councilman David Williams stated that he “preferred to spend more energy and attention on town business.”
F.A. Hendrick agreed with this, as I do.
The town has major issues with storm run-off, the water system, the sewer system and the budget. There is no room for personal beliefs in regard to someone’s family issues when there are so many things falling apart in the town of La Crosse.
The council has used their position for personal wants and not for what the town and its residents need.
The town and its citizens will remain in my best interest as mayor.
As for the statement made by councilman Tom Tanner, saying he would prefer I resign for the good of the town, then saying he would consider running for mayor, I will leave that up to the citizens of La Crosse.
Since taking office in July, no council member has attempted to contact me about any issues in the town. I stated when I was elected that I was sure the council and I could work smoothly together to take care of any problems, issues or complaints in a timely fashion. That unfortunately has not been the case thus far since there has been no communication to discuss anything at all. Instead they chose to waste time trying to remove me as mayor.
I would like to see everyone in the town attend the council meetings, which occur every second Monday, and take part in what happens in their town. If the people stand together, their voice will be heard — but it has to be done at the council meetings.
I would like to thank the citizens of La Crosse and offer them any help that I can.
Mayor Jay Spence
Featured Photo: Jay Spence