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Candidate’s residency questioned in Burkeville mayor’s race

Commonwealth’s Attorney Leanne Watrous confirms reports that her office is looking into complaints that one of three men running for Mayor of Burkeville doesn’t meet legal residency requirements.

“At this point, the complaints are being looked into in order to determine whether or not there is any legitimacy to the allegations.”

Ms. Watrous declined to identify the candidate, but sources say it’s Tommy Goin.

Those reports were fueled during a Crewe-Burkeville Chamber of Commerce candidates’ forum last Wednesday at the Burkeville fire station.

Goin emphasized his longtime volunteer service, including organizing Burkefest, the Haunted House, and Christmas Parade. And at one point he said, “I’m sorry that I’m 2.8 miles outside in the country -- outside of town limits -- but I have moved to the town. I’m trying to be part of the town.”

Later in the debate -- in Round Three, when each candidate was allowed to ask their opponents a question -- Adam Cliborne cited Goin’s earlier comments and asked, “Are you eligible to run for elected office here?”

“I do live in town,” Goin replied. “Thank you. That’s it.”

Rules of the debate allowed candidates to offer a rebuttal. Cliborne declined.

Goin chose not to pose a question to either Cliborne or fellow candidate Brian Weltch.

Weltch went last in that round. He asked both of his competitors if they would join him and pledge to support whoever wins the Nov. 3rd election.

“Absolutely,” Goin responded. “I’ll have no hard feelings.”

Cliborne agreed, saying he will “always be a phone call away.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Watrous was among those in attendance Wednesday night, as was Burkeville Police Chief Billy Abel.

The Nottoway Voter Registrar’s Office lists Goin as living at 117 Knott Hill Street. Cliborne resides at 215 S. Agnew Streeet, and Weltch resides at 413 Simmons Street.

There were reports before the debate that Goin had withdrawn from the race. But those reports were premature.

Nottoway Registrar Angela Stewart said Goin recently came to her office and requested a withdrawal form, and for that document to be mailed to 5118 Cary Shop Road. That address is out of town.

“We mailed those documents as he requested,” Mrs. Stewart told the Courier-Re-cord last Thursday. “He has never returned those forms. I am mailing them again.”

The Courier-Record asked Goin over the week-end if he wished to respond to the residency issue. He declined.

Crewe Mayor Phil Miskovic and Blackstone Mayor Billy Coleburn moderated Wednesday’s forum, which lasted an hour.

Cliborne, Goin, and Weltch are seeking to succeed Joe Morrissette, 79, who has led the Town since July 2002 and who announced in Jan. 2019 that he wasn’t seeking re-election this year.

The contest had been a four-man race, but former Mayor Ray George withdrew for health reasons.

The outgoing, affable Morrissette didn’t attend Wednesday’s forum and wasn’t named by either candidate during the proceeding.

Morrissette is the secondlongest serving mayor in Burkeville history behind the late Shelton Hillsman, who served three different stints totaling 19 years. Morrissette, however, has served the most consecutive years, at 18 1/2.

Blackstone Courier Record

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