Buena Vista mayor ousted, other incumbents re-elected

By Caroline Leak

In Buena Vista, Mayor Larry Tolley lost to challenger Billy Fitzgerald, a city council member, by nearly 400 votes.

“I’m up for the challenge,” Fitzgerald said last night. “This shows that the citizens want a change.”

Fitzgerald also said he plans to resist paying loan payments for the Vista Links Golf Course. The city and insurance company are locked in a legal battle over the city’s refusal to pay the loan.

Christopher Russell, Buena Vista’s incumbent commonwealth’s attorney, won re-election, beating his opponent, Jared Moon, by more than 150 votes.

The city council had three seats up for contention, with the potential of a fourth seat if Fitzgerald won the mayor’s job.

Council candidate Daniel Staton and incumbent Councilman Melvin Henson won two of the city council’s seats. Last night, it was unclear who had won the third open seat.

Councilman John Dyer also was seeking re-election, but he failed to file his candidacy papers, and was running as a write-in candidate.

The school board’s incumbents, John Roberts, Lisa Kerr, John Rice and Roy Mohler, were re-elected.

Mohler was the sole candidate to respond to repeated requests for comments. He said he hopes to continue giving teachers raises, as the board has done in the five years Mohler has served as a board member.

“The main issues will always be about doing more with less,” Mohler said in an email, adding that he hopes to have the school system fully accredited soon.

Sheriff Randy Hamilton, Commissioner of Revenue MarVita Flint and Treasurer Mary Lee Huffman were all unopposed incumbents and won.