James Anderson

James "Scabbo" Anderson (right) is sworn in as a Town Council member for Abingdon.

ABINGDON, Va. — James “Scabbo” Anderson made history this year as the first African American to be sworn in as a member of the Abingdon Town Council.

Anderson, 67, was elected in May.

But this is not his first stab at serving on a government board in Abingdon.

For nearly four years, Anderson has been a member of the town’s planning commission — a board for which his aunt Harriet DeBose had also been a member.

Anderson takes his chair on the town council on July 1, along with Amanda Pillion, who was also elected in May.

“They needed a change, and I was their choice,” Anderson said. “And, hopefully, I can uphold their opinion of me and try to give the people what they want.”

Outgoing members now include a majority of the board — Wayne Craig, Cindy Patterson and Al Bradley. While Craig and Patterson lost their seats in the election, Bradley resigned more recently due to health concerns.

“True enough,” Anderson said, noting that he will be the first African American on the town council.

“I think people in Abingdon — the unrepresented people — felt that a change was needed,” Anderson said. “And people of all nationalities and minority people, they were ready for a change.”

But, he said, “I’m looking beyond color. I’m looking to bring Abingdon back together — if it takes blackness, whiteness, whatever.”

Anderson is a retired teacher, having served stints at Jacobs Creek Job Corps in Tennessee and Abingdon High School in Virginia.

Most of all, as a council member, Anderson wants to see the Abingdon Sports Complex finished at The Meadows.

“I think it’s been put aside too long,” he said. “If we open that up, the families that move here will want to stay because their children will have things to do.”

In the immediate future, he’s just anxious to be on the town council.

“I’m hyped up and ready to go. It will be my first one. So that kind of lays the groundwork. It will give me a better perspective on what to expect.”

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