Newly elected mayor makes history in more ways than one

For the first time in its 188-year history the city of Pinckneyville is going to have an African American mayor.

After a recount, Robert Spencer beat his opponent by four votes.

The signs on the outside of town call Pinckneyville the friendly little city, but Robert Spencer says 38 years ago the people here weren’t so friendly when he became the first African American to move into town.

“It was hard for me to find a place to live,” Spencer said. “There was one particular family — Al and Elizabeth Kellerman — I call them my second family. They rented a two room apartment to me.”

Thirty eight years later the people of Pinckneyville opened their arms to Spencer by making him the town’s first black mayor.

Perry County Clerk Josh Gross says Spencer’s four-vote victory broke more than one record.

“I took one afternoon, and I researched old election results. And I went back into the ’30s, and there were no races that were this close,” Gross said.

“That wasn’t even on my radar,” Spencer said. “This town and this county have been great for me, and I just like the opportunity to serve them and give something back to the community.”

While he downplays the historical aspect of his election, Spencer is eager to get to work.

“We have a new high school,” Spencer said. “We have a new hospital. I’d like to be self-sufficient. We shop our town, but we should be able to buy what we want here in town.”

Even if Spencer had lost the race history would have been made.

Fran Thomas, who Spencer defeated, was vying to become the town’s first female mayor.

Spencer will be sworn into office May 11.

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