Van­der­voet sworn in

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­

New­born’s new mayor was sworn in Mon­day to re­place Roger Sheri­dan, but he may be mov­ing, leav­ing the city to fill his po­si­tion.

New­born got a new mayor Mon­day, but the city might need another one sooner than ex­pected.

Mark Van­der­voet was sworn in as act­ing mayor of New­born Mon­day to re­place Roger Sheri­dan, who died in De­cem­ber, but Van­der­voet in­formed the coun­cil he had reached an agree­ment to sell his New­born house ear­lier Mon­day.

Van­der­voet said he didn’t have plans to sell his home at this time, but a buyer reached out to the Van­der­voets and matched the ask­ing price.

“I will do all I can to ful­fill my term as act­ing mayor, and in the event that we find a home in New­born I still have all in­ten­tions of run­ning for mayor in the spe­cial elec­tion,” Van­der­voet said in an email to The News that also noted he is also strongly con­sid­er­ing homes in Jasper County.

Elec­tion quandary

For­mer mayor Sheri­dan died just a month af­ter be­ing re­elected to a sec­ond four-year term.

New­born is set to have a spe­cial elec­tion March 18, though an ac­tual elec­tion will only be held if the city has mul­ti­ple can­di­dates.

Town Clerk Lisa Rowe said the town can’t af­ford to pay for an elec­tion and has no trained staff.

“I am not cer­ti­fied to be an elec­tion su­per­in­ten­dent or ab­sen­tee bal­lot clerk, and I have no time to be­come cer­ti­fied.

Classes are online, and there is no pos­si­ble way, be­ing the only one in the of­fice, and in­ter­rupted too many times dur­ing the day to count, that I could fo­cus on and take online classes,” Rowe said in an email.

New­born of­fi­cials wanted to pay the Newton County Board of Elec­tions to han­dle the town’s elec­tions, but the county has de­clined to date be­cause of its own con­cerns over in­ter­nal costs and man­power re­quire­ments.

Qual­i­fy­ing for the mayor’s seat will start 8:30 a.m. Feb. 3 and last un­til 4:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at New­born Town Hall. The qual­i­fy­ing fee is $30.

Mov­ing for­ward

Van­der­voet’s news came as a sur­prise to the coun­cil, but the act­ing mayor said he had to do what was best for his fam­ily.

Van­der­voet, who grew up in New­born, first pur­chased his home on South John­ston Street in 2009 af­ter it had gone into fore­clo­sure. He told the coun­cil he used all his sav­ings to buy and ren­o­vate the house with the goal of sell­ing it in five years and mov­ing to a new home.

“New­born has been my home for 24 years now and also my wife’s home for 28 years. Af­ter mov­ing around for a few years, we fi­nally pur­chased our cur­rent home on S. John­son Street,” Van­der­voet said in an email. “With a child came new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and the vi­sion of bring­ing him up in the same en­vi­ron­ment that I was brought up in. I could think of no bet­ter place than the sub­tle town of New­born. We have a rich past here, and we know ev­ery­one in town, but when we pur­chased our home we also came up with a five-year plan.”

The plan changed when he got in­volved in pol­i­tics in the sum­mer of 2012, as he fig­ured he would stay longer, but when a buyer un­ex­pect­edly showed in­ter­est a few months ago, the plan even­tu­ally re­verted to its orig­i­nal form.

“I have al­ways had a plan for what I want and how I want to achieve it; (how­ever,) goals set and goals al­tered is usu­ally what hap­pens and usu­ally on the turn of a dime,” he said. “We had no in­ten­tions of al­ter­ing our plan, our de­layed plan, but the ul­ti­mate goal is fam­ily and its well-be­ing.

“I mean no harm to the town or coun­cil, but life has a weird way of turn­ing life around. New­born has al­ways been my place of refuge and will al­ways be where I call home no mat­ter where I go or travel.

“Dur­ing all those bike rides (as a child) I would have never imag­ined that I would have the op­por­tu­nity to be the mayor ,and I thank ev­ery­one who has got me to this place in my life and hope that ev­ery­one knows how much I care for home.”

sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Mark Van­der­voet was sworn in as act­ing mayor of New­born Mon­day, re­plac­ing the late Roger Sheri­dan.

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