Hunter Pepper graduated from high school just three months ago, and now he’s won the Decatur City Council District 4 race by 36 votes.
The 18-year-old, who now may be the city’s youngest ever council member, upset longtime incumbent Charles Kirby in Tuesday’s municipal elections.
Pepper received 508 votes to 472 for Kirby in the unofficial vote totals. The vote will be canvassed Sept. 1 to make it official.
“I knew it was going to be tough and I knew it was going to be hard but we did it,” said Pepper, who graduated from the Jewel Christian Academy home-school organization in May. “And I had a great team of volunteers.”
Pepper, who has a vehicle-detailing business, said he feels he earned the win, and it wasn’t a vote against Kirby.
“I worked hard,” Pepper said. “I went door to door. I stood out on the street corners. Today, I stood out in the rain for 14 hours and got soaking wet, but I did what I was supposed to do.”
Kirby, who will complete his ninth year on the council in November, said he was surprised and disappointed by the result.
“He (Pepper) got a lot of support behind the scenes, including the mayor (Tab Bowling),” Kirby said. “He also got support from a church."
Kirby and District 3 incumbent Paige Bibbee lost, leaving District 1’s Billy Jackson as the only council incumbent who'll return when the new term begins Nov. 3.
“There’s a growing wave of the public being dissatisfied with those in office,” Kirby said.
Kirby said there “are too many obstacles facing this city, and the biggest obstacle is in the mayor’s office.”
Kirby, 67, said he felt he didn’t get enough credit for fighting for the issues in his Southwest Decatur district and the city. He said he made a lot of enemies with his push for transparency, “which some people don’t want.”