LATTA, S.C. (WBTW) — A court ruled Thursday that Latta’s new mayor can’t be sworn in due to a dispute over his residency, according to documents obtained by WBTW News.
A judge said Henry “Robbie” Coward can’t be sworn in as the town’s mayor on Jan. 1, nor can he attempt to sit as mayor at any town council meetings, have town employees order items on his behalf or use town funds, according to the documents.
Teresa Mason, who Coward beat in the election, protested the results due to Coward’s residency status. Coward received 275 votes to Mason’s 192.
Documents show Coward has called the town clerk to order him a name plate and intended to sit at council meetings as mayor.
A sworn affidavit from Rebecca Page, the town clerk, states that Coward told her to order his name plate so he didn’t have to be the only person at the council meeting without one, despite being told his wasn’t ordered due to the election protest.
In a hearing Dec. 11, the Latta Municipal Election Commission found that Coward doesn’t live in the Town of Latta, as required by South Carolina law, and did not live in the town for at least 30 days before the election, according to the documents.
Documents show that Coward hasn’t given up his other residency, which is in Dillon. After the hearing, the commission overturned the results of the election due to Coward being ineligible for the position.
Coward appealed the election commission’s decision to overturn the results of the election. In the appeal, he claimed because he was allowed to legally vote in the election for mayor, he is allowed to be a candidate in that same race.
The appeal states that Coward had the property in Latta more than 30 days before the election and had utilities set up at the location. The appeal also states he went to Dillon County Nov. 1 and had that address removed as his residency to no longer receive the tax discount.
The court ruled that Coward can’t be sworn in as mayor until the issue is resolved in court. Count on News13 for updates.