DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - Municipal elections were held across North Alabama yesterday, and we are waking up to some very interesting results -- specifically, in Decatur. The River City now has three new council members under the age of 35.
While incumbent mayor Tab Bowling did win the *most votes, he didn’t win the majority.
To win the election, a candidate with more than one opponent must win more than half the vote. So while Bowling’s nearly 4,000 votes proved him the favored candidate against his competitors, that total count only gave him 48% of the vote.
That means he’ll face former city councilman and youth mentor Butch Matthews in a run-off election on October 6.
In other surprising news, Decatur has just elected possibly the youngest man to ever serve on its city council: 18-year-old Hunter Pepper. The recent high school grad won 508 votes, beating long-time incumbent Charles Kirby with his only 472. “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.”
Speaking with our news partners at the Decatur Daily, Pepper said good old-fashioned hard work got him where he is now. “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 said he was surprised and disappointed. He told the Daily that Mayor Bowling’s endorsement and help from a local church may have made the difference in the close race. There’s a growing wave of the public being dissatisfied with those in office,” Kirby said, adding “there are too many obstacles facing this city, and the biggest obstacle is in the mayor’s office.”
In another stunning result, Council President Paige Bibbee lost her seat Tuesday to Carlton McMasters for District 3. She also said she had powerful interests lined up against her. Speaking to the Decatur Daily, Bibbee says a prominent local attorney campaigning against her was a problem, but she’s not going to disappear from local politics. “Now I will be freed up in November to advocate for the city like I haven’t been able to as a councilwoman,” Bibbee said. McMasters said he felt hard work was the difference. “The one thing I said when I started this campaign is no one is going to work harder than me,” McMasters said.
In District 2, 27-year-old Kyle Dukes Pike was able to beat out two other challengers for the open seat.
33-year-old Jacob Ladner will join the council for his first term after winning the District 5 race against Rodney Gordon and Mark Macklin.
This means that District 1′s Billy Jackson will be Decatur’s only incumbent council member to return.