Ex-Mayor Gets A Job
Geez. Some of you really know how to hurt a girl’s feelings.
On Wednesday morning I found the following message in my inbox from someone we’ll just call “Russell”:
Kerry, I think you are getting soft in your old age. You have gone this entire week without writing about Will Sessoms and his new position. Where is our favorite Kerry? Thanks for your writings, I enjoy them daily.
"Old age"? C'mon, Russell. "Getting soft”? Ouch.
Good thing I’m not thin-skinned.
Fact is, like everyone else, I’m still trying to make sense of the latest announcement from Virginia Beach’s former mayor.
Let’s just review the facts, shall we? They're peculiar enough.
Will Sessoms was first elected mayor of Virginia Beach in 2008. A job that pays just $30,000 a year. It's intended to be a part-time position. Sessoms' day job was as President/CEO of Towne Financial Services, a division of TowneBank, where he earned considerably more.
When elected, Sessoms vowed to avoid conflicts of interest with his role as a banker.
But on November 9, 2014, my old employer, The Virginian-Pilot, published a blockbuster story by investigative reporter John Holland. The paper revealed that Sessoms had voted on items that benefited borrowers of TowneBank.
A month later, Sessoms took a sweet “early retirement “ deal from the bank.
A special prosecutor was appointed to look into Sessoms’ votes and a year later - in December of 2015 - the mayor was convicted of one misdemeanor count of conflict of interest.
Fast forward to November of 2016 and Sessoms was re-elected after raising a staggering $753,998 in campaign funds, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
I know, I know. There's no explaining Virginia Beach voters. Or political contributors.
Just 16 months into his third term as mayor - in April of this year - Sessoms announced he was quitting. He said he wanted to find a job in the private sector.
Apparently $425,000 a year doesn’t go as far as it once did. That’s how much Sessoms was paid for the first three years after he left the bank, according to The Pilot. The paychecks stopped last December and it wouldn't be until 2019 - when he turned 65 - that Sessoms could qualify for his annual retirement pay of $215,104.
Sessoms said adios to council on April 30. He took off before the critical budget vote in May.
Almost three months went by without any word on a job. Then, last week, The Pilot announced that Sessoms was headed back to TowneBank.
“Sessoms, 64, said at the time (of his resignation) that he was contemplating two offers in the private sector – neither in his previous profession of banking,” The Pilot reported.
“On Friday, though, he threw another curve ball by announcing he’s not only returning to his old field, but to his former employer, TowneBank. Sessoms said he will be the managing director of the bank’s Towne Vacations division, in charge of resort properties.”
So what do I think about all this, Russell?
Well, I think Sessoms will be a rainmaker for the bank.
And I’m very glad we’re getting a new mayor.