Congratulations to Don Kyle, a former Decatur mayor who will return to office Nov. 5.
Kyle ran an aggressive, well-organized campaign that reflected his leadership style from 2004-08.
He has energy and focus, both of which will be essential tools as he seeks to move Decatur forward.
Kyle will take office at an auspicious time in the city’s history. The industrial sector is expanding, as is the retail sector. Thanks to a partnership between public and private stakeholders, downtown holds more promise than it has in decades. Even Decatur Mall, fading for years, is blossoming under new ownership.
The city also faces challenges, and voters look forward to Kyle applying the same enthusiasm he displayed in his campaign to the difficult task of finding solutions.
Decatur has experienced almost no population growth for years, and the average age of its residents is rising. Young professionals — even those willing to work in Decatur — rarely reside here. City statistics are not available, but the county poverty rate is 17 percent.
Unemployment was 8.4 percent in August, above the national rate. The city has been unsuccessful in its efforts to attract developers of upscale housing, and it struggles to staff an underpaid police force.
So Kyle comes in at a time when Decatur has unprecedented potential but also faces difficult problems.
To capitalize on Decatur’s advantages and tackle its challenges, Kyle will need to work closely with the City Council, municipal employees and community leaders. That did not come easy for Kyle in his previous term. Voters clearly accepted Kyle’s promise that he had learned from past mistakes.
“You’ve got to bite your tongue sometimes to get things done,” Kyle said during the campaign. “You can’t spend all your time fighting with people over things.”
Kyle’s recognition that compromise and cooperation are essential to Decatur’s progress is a philosophy that City Council members also must embrace. The only losers in battles between the mayor and council are the people of Decatur.
Voters are convinced Kyle wants what’s best for Decatur and that he has the skill to make it happen. He has a big job ahead. We join the rest of Decatur’s residents in wishing him success.
Congratulations also go to Chuck Ard, who won a runoff in District 5.
He showed a remarkable understanding of the city’s challenges during his campaign, and he promises to be an important asset as Decatur strives for the sort of advances that can come only with sound government.
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