Travis Chance resigned Tuesday from the District 5 Statesboro City Council seat he has held for more than 10 years and announced his candidacy for Seat 2-B on the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners.
Chance would have had to resign from the council when he moves to a home he and his wife purchased and are renovating outside Statesboro's city limits. Last week he said that their move may be several months away.
But during the "Other Business from City Council" portion of Tuesday's 9 a.m. regular meeting, Chance read a statement announcing his resignation effective at 5 p.m.
"I sit here today with very mixed emotions and a heavy heart, because this seat has been a part of me for a decade," he began. "Unfortunately, today that's going to change."
By resigning this week, he will be clear to qualify as a county commission candidate. The qualifying period ends at noon Friday.
"I first ran for this (City Council) seat because I felt I could make a difference and have an impact," Chance continued. "I was 29 years old when I took my first oath of office. I sit here one month shy of my 40th birthday and reflect on all that God has blessed me and my family with, and this city."
Statesboro looks very different than it did almost 11 years ago, he said, noting also that of the members sworn in in 2008, he was the last still on the council.
"We have grown because the heartbeat of the city has always been one of growth and development, and I hope that in some way I have contributed to that prosperity," Chance said.
Near the end of his tenure, he served one two-year term as mayor pro tempore. Concluding that term Jan. 2, he nominated Councilman John Riggs, who was elected mayor pro tem by all of the members.
Tuesday, Chance said he has "had the opportunity to serve with some of the finest people in this community, present and past council and staff included."
He thanked his wife Shannon and their young daughters Maeson, Marett and Maddox for their love and support, and also cited his growing family as the reason they are moving.
"We will be moving to our new home this year, which will not be in my current district, which means I'll have to give up my seat no matter what," Chance said.
A provision of Statesboro's city charter states that the office of a mayor or council member who moves to a residence outside the city limits shall be declared vacant.
"Being a public servant has been a part of who I am for many years now. ...," Chance said. "So, after much prayer and thoughtful consideration, I'm here to tell you that as one door closes I'm hoping to open another."
Can't do both
His home in the city limits is also in Bulloch County Board of Commissioners District 2, he said, so he would be in that district both in his old home or his new one. But Bulloch County Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones said that Chance could not have remained a Statesboro council member while running for county commissioner because the two offices have overlapping terms.
Chance, a financial advisor who has his own firm, said he will qualify as a county candidate Wednesday.
His choice of Seat 2-B pits him against incumbent Commissioner Walter Gibson and another challenger, Sid Jones. Gibson and Jones qualified as Republicans, and Chance said he will run as a Republican, so the race could be decided in the May 22 primary election or a July 24 runoff.
Special city election
His unexpired City Council term extends to Dec. 31, 2019. A special city election in District 5 will be required to fill the vacancy, said City Attorney Cain Smith. A special election could be held either May 22 or Nov. 6, coinciding with the state and county general election, Jones said.
The winner, Smith said, would then be sworn in at the next council meeting after the special election or runoff.
For now, unless the mayor or two council members call a meeting, the decision about when to hold the special election would be put on the agenda for the March 20 regular meeting, Smith said.
"Right now I'm thinking that we'll take care of this in November during the general election," Mayor Jonathan McCollar said after Tuesday's meeting. "It would be a good opportunity to find somebody that's going to be able to try to fill Councilman Chance's shoes."
Until a new member is elected, the council will have four members, increasing the likelihood of tied votes, but the mayor can vote to break a tie.
McCollar thanked Chance for his service. Elected in November and mayor since Jan. 2, McCollar also said that Chance helped him settle into office.
"He's been a rock over the past 10 years, almost 11 years. You know, he's just been a great guy," McCollar said. "He's been like a mentor to me since I've been coming in. He didn't hesitate to show open arms and help guide along the way."
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.