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Posted: January 17, 2014 11:32 a.m.

Newborn's new mayor could be leaving

Photo submitted by Lisa Rowe/

Acting Mayor Mark Vandervoet

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, who noted he is also strongly considering homes in Jasper County.

Election quandary
Former mayor Sheridan died in early December, 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 S. Johnston Street in 2009 after the home 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 wellbeing.

“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.”

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