NAMPA — After 12 years as mayor, incumbent Tom Dale will give up his seat to challenger Bob Henry in January.
“It hasn't sunk in yet,” Henry said after the final precinct reported Tuesday night. “I'm excited, but I've got a lot of work ahead of me now. When I look at the City Council races and mine, it's pretty clear that taxes were the issue.”
After a tight race Tuesday night — the final count was a mere 113-vote difference — a disappointed Dale said he likely wouldn't request a recount.
“I look forward to a smooth transition,” Dale said. “I've served people all my life in one form or another, and I'll just keep on doing that.”
Early in his mayoral career, Dale repealed an ordinance allowing runoff voting if no candidate captured 50 percent of the vote. He declined to comment Tuesday night on whether he regrets that decision.
In the meantime, Mayor-Elect Henry said has a lot of work to do. Only two of the incoming six-member Nampa City Council have prior experience on the city's governing body. Add a new mayor to the mix, and the local government will look quite a bit different in a few months.
The first step, Henry said, is to work with the city's department heads and the outgoing mayor to start laying the groundwork for his administration.
“I’ve never been mayor,” Henry said with a laugh. “I’ve got to tie up loose ends, and hit the ground running. Got to find a new councilman to fill my seat.
So I’ll be busy.”
Dale said he and his campaigners fought the good fight, and he’s grateful for the support he’s gotten from the community. Not just in recent months, he said, but throughout his career in city government.
He said Monday night it was to early to speculate on future runs for public office. But wherever he goes from here, he said, he’ll find some way to keep helping the community.
“I’d just like to thank all my supporters, thank all the voters who turned out,” Dale said. “Looks like about a 50-50 split there. I appreciate those folks who supported me all these years, and I just thank them for the opportunity to serve for 12 years. It’s been great.”
Candidate Melissa Sue Robinson said she didn’t expect to win this time around, but she isn’t calling it quits — she’ll run for public office again. And by getting her name on the ballot, she said, she helped boost awareness of the issues she’s most passionate about.
“I’m going to look at the City Council races in Nampa next year,” she said. “If not that, I’m going to look at another state senator or house of representatives run.”
Robert Muse could not be reached for comment.
MAYOR DALE HAS HISTORY OF CLOSE CITY ELECTIONS
This wasn’t Tom Dale’s first close race. In his first run — as a city councilor — for mayor in 1997 against incumbent Mayor Maxine Horn, Dale lost by 52 votes. An estimated 40 percent of registered voters turned out for that multiple-candidate race.
After that race, when Horn won by just 31 percent of the vote, the city adopted a law that required the mayor be elected by a majority of the votes. If no one received a majority, a runoff election would be held for the two who got the most votes.
In 2001, Dale beat Horn by 140 votes in a three-person race, but because he didn’t win by the majority, a runoff election was held a month later. In that runoff, Dale won by 53 percent of the vote.
Shortly after Dale took office, the “runoff rule” was repealed.
Dale was easily re-elected in 2005 and 2009.