updated 5/21/2009 9:46:44 AM ET 2009-05-21T13:46:44

The mayor of a West Texas city abruptly resigned Wednesday, picking love over his love of office.

J.W. Lown told the San Angelo Standard-Times in a telephone interview from Mexico that he was involved in a relationship with a man who does not have legal status in the United States.

Lown, 32, said he didn't want to take the oath of office knowing he was "aiding and assisting" someone who is not a U.S. citizen. He was to be sworn in Tuesday but did not show up for the ceremony.

"We had to do the right thing and come to Mexico and wait in line for a visa," Lown said.

Lown, who has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Mexico, said he didn't know how long it would take to obtain a visa for his partner. He said they would return to San Angelo if "the people of San Angelo will welcome me back."

Lown, who has his own real estate company, said he'd made thousands of decisions as mayor and weighed the one to resign "in the same manner."

Happy with his decision
City Manager Harold Dominguez said he had spoken to Lown twice since receiving the resignation letter Wednesday morning.

"My impression is that he is very happy with the decision he made," Dominguez said. "He gave the decision-making process a lot of thought, and he is at peace with it. He did sound happy."

"I think it goes without saying we lost a great public servant with Mayor Lown," Mayor Pro Tem Jon Mark Hogg said. "He cared about and advocated for the city of San Angelo."

Lown on May 9 overwhelmingly won re-election to a fourth term, garnering about 89 percent of the votes.

The job of San Angelo mayor pays $600 annually. The mayor is elected at-large, serves a two-year term and has no additional power beyond that of other city council members.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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