A new yet familiar Don is coming to City Hall.
Former mayor Don Kyle captured 56 percent (5,587 votes) of Tuesday’s runoff vote against challenger Carl Cole, who garnered 44 percent (4,432 votes).
Roughly 31 percent, or 10,019, of registered Decatur voters turned out to decide who will lead the city of 55,000 for the next four years.
Kyle celebrated his decisive win with friends, family and former colleagues at the Holiday Inn.
“Winning always feels better than losing,” Kyle said, looking tired but happy. “What I’m really proud about is the tremendous amount of hard work put in by a diverse group of people.
“You had people from all backgrounds come together, and I think they were truly representative of our city.”
Kyle won 15 of 21 precincts, plus absentee ballots, and dominated in densely-populated Southwest Decatur. Cole won six precincts, his support concentrated on the east side.
“Don ran one of the most effective campaigns locally I’ve seen in a very long time,” Cole said. “Decatur is going to be just fine with him as mayor.”
Sitting Mayor Don Stanford, who did not qualify for the runoff, plans to meet with Kyle this month to begin the transition between administrations. Kyle said he’s excited to catch up with city employees with whom he worked while in office from 2004-08 and to meet new personnel. One of his top priorities is revisiting the city manager issue — and its three-district plan — around which Cole built his platform.
“I plan to ask the City Council to resubmit the original city manager plan that was approved by voters in the referendum, and ask the Justice Department to give us a definitive yes or no,” Kyle said. “We’ve got to resolve that.”
Cole said he hoped Kyle would protect the city’s five districts in the process.
“We may not have won, but I think we accomplished something in that people have accepted that the city manager issue is something that needs to be dealt with,” Cole said. “People have told me that my campaign raised the level of debate, and that’s the highest compliment I could get.”
Kyle said a second priority is forming a volunteer committee composed of local business owners to study the city operations structure to find efficiencies and cross-train employees. He commended Cole and his supporters for their hard work and for giving voters a clear choice.
“Carl definitely brought a different look to things,” Kyle said. “My supporters had to determine whether they agreed with my position, and if they did, we had to work hard to make sure everyone came out to vote again. I’m very pleased that the turnout stayed remarkably high in the runoff.”
Now that the mayoral race is decided, Kyle and Cole plan to spend today picking up their signs, cleaning up the aftermath of their campaigns and trying to catch up on sleep.
“I’m just very relieved he won,” said Susan Kyle, Don’s wife. “It feels very good, but I think we’re going to enjoy a little bit of quiet time. But then in a few days, Don will be ready to hit the road again and start working for the city.”
Annual mayor’s salary is $106,631 and includes use of a municipal vehicle. Kyle will be sworn in for a four-year term Nov. 5.
The race started with five candidates including Stanford, former city Chief Financial Officer Gail Busbey and small businessman Kevin Penn.
Penn dropped out ahead of the Aug. 28 election, and the pack of four was narrowed to front-runner Kyle and upstart Cole. On Tuesday, Cole closed Kyle’s 17 point lead by five points.
Not registered? Click here
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|