Husband, Wife Serve On Town Council

Published 4:31 pm Thursday, November 4, 2010

DILLWYN – With the appointment of Bill Lewis Moss to town council, Dillwyn now has the distinction of having a husband and wife sitting at the council table. Moss joins his wife Sandra who was elected to council in November 2009, and took office on January 1, 2010.

Mayor Ervin Toney announced the appointment at council's October 12 meeting. Bill Lewis Moss is filling a seat vacated by Ossie Harris, who resigned in September due to health related reasons.

According to the town's charter, the mayor has the authority to fill a vacancy. The charter reads, “…it shall be the duty of the mayor, or in his absence, the majority of the councilmen shall fill all vacancies by appointment.”

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Sharing that he knew Bill Lewis Moss was interested in serving on council, Toney said he realized the idea of two members of a family might raise a flag but research indicated it was permissible.

“Nothing in the charter says that two members of the same family cannot serve on council,” stated Toney.

Although having a husband and wife serve simultaneously on a town or city council is not unprecedented or unique, it is not that usual, offered an email from the Virginia Municipal League.

However, the VML employee explained that researching the actual numbers and specifics would be “really laborious” and would involve combing through state board of election candidate listings.

Commending Sandra Moss for her work thus far on council and her commitment to cleaning-up the town, Toney said, “If Bill Lewis works as hard as Sandra, the town could really prosper.”

He added that Bill Lewis is interested in working with business property owners to enhance and maintain their properties in an effort to increase the town's potential for attracting new businesses and economic development.

Explaining that the term expires in December 2011, Toney shared, “I think he wanted to give it a try to see if it is something he is interested in doing.” He added, “I felt like this would be a good opportunity for him to do that.”

Toney, noting that he contacted several council members prior to making the appointment, said two members expressed concern about the perception of having a husband and wife team on council and how it would look. However, he added that both agreed Bill Lewis Moss would be a good choice to fill the vacant seat.

“Sandra and Bill Lewis are as independent and different as night and day,” stated Toney. “If they are willing to serve the town and do a good job at it, I don't see how it would generate any complaints.”

He continued, “When you've got hard working people I don't think you are going to get criticism.”

Toney shared, “Bill Lewis has a lot of pride in the town. He walks it every night, checks the businesses, and picks up trash.” With a laugh, the mayor added, “I told him we should make him town sergeant.”

He offered, “Knowing both of them, I know they will each follow their conscience. They're good people.”

Toney concluded, “Our council is a good group of hardworking people. Everyone brings different attributes to the town. It's a working council.”

Council's Newest Member

Bill Lewis Moss was born and raised in the town. Although he and Sandra resided in the Andersonville area for many years, they moved back to Dillwyn in 2000.

Moss said he began working in Dillwyn at Newton Brothers Store in 1955. “In 1960, I purchased that and had the business from 60 to 69,” he shared. “We sold a little bit of everything.” That everything included cars, shared Moss, adding that he sold cars for Sandra's uncle.

“So I've been selling cars for 50 years,” said Moss. “The first car I sold was in 1960 and it was a 1953 Dodge Ram.”

Moss, realizing that he wanted to be in the car business full time, sold the store to his sister and her husband in 1969.

With the exception of approximately eight years, Moss has either owned his own business or been in a partnership.

In 1984, he and Sandra opened Moss Motor Company on Route 15, just south of Dillwyn.

Although the appointment to council ushers in his first experience in public office, Moss said he has served the community for 50 years as a member of the Dillwyn Volunteer Fire Department.

The new council member shared that watching his wife serve on council and her successful efforts to clean-up the town with the help of volunteers and community service workers inspired and motivated him.

“I can see the difference,” he said. “There's a lot going on and I am very interested in seeing some of those buildings that are empty have something in them.”

Moss continued, “I got the appointment and now I can see how it goes before the next election.”

When asked if he had any reservations about serving with his wife on council, Moss said Sandra researched the legality of both of them serving and found out that they could.

“I had no idea both of us could be on it but it is legal,” he stated.

Moss shared that he and Sandra enjoy visiting other small towns to get ideas about what can be done to attract businesses.

“I've been in business for myself and managing businesses and I think people in office should know something about what goes on in a business,” stated Moss. “I think you need to understand how to make a profit.”

He continued, “You have to set goals for what you want and you set goals every year.” Moss added, “And you have to work toward those goals. You have to work together to reach those goals-whether it's a business or a council.”

Moss offered, “Anything that is pulling apart cannot succeed-you have to work together.”

He stated, “There are grants out there to help improve the town but it's going to take the people working with town council to make a difference.”

The new council member offered, “I am looking forward to it and I'm hoping I will be able to do something that will benefit the people and the town.” He added, “And Sandra is going to work me hard, I know that.”

From Council Table to the Dinner Table

Sandra Moss offered, “Obviously, we come at this from two different angles. Bill Lewis has other interests from mine. I want the town to look good, hopefully, to attract businesses and generally make it look better.”

She continued, “Bill Lewis is an expert with figures. He really is good with budgeting issues. I think he will come at it from the business standpoint.”

Sandra shared, “I think he will bring some different things to the table. And we jokingly said we would not fight at the table.” She added, “My standard joke is that working together all the time makes for limited dinner table conversation.”

She offered, “Seriously, we've talked about it-if he wants to vote one way on something and I vote another way-that's perfectly fine. We don't feel obligated to have to be in lockstep.”

Sandra concluded, “I am happy that he has the opportunity to see if this is a fit for him. If it works for him-that's great, perhaps he'll want to stay on. If he finds out it's not something he wants to do, that's fine, too.”

In Dillwyn, all six members of town council serve concurrent two-year terms, as does the mayor. Moreover, council members serve on an at-large basis rather than by districts.