Independence voters on Tuesday elected a new mayor, choosing 4th District Council Member Eileen Weir over at-large Council Member Jim Schultz.
Weir, first elected to the City Council two years ago, won by a wide margin, 6,604 votes (56.7 percent) to 5,021 (43.1 percent).
“I think this vote means there’s a mandate for change,” Weir said Tuesday night. She said public safety and supporting the schools as a step toward economic development are among the issues facing the city, and she said the council needs to look closely at those.
“I believe in strategic planning and then executing that plan,” she said.
The city’s public safety sales tax expires in two years without a voter renewal – the council would have to decide to put it on the ballot – and many city officials have long said more police officers are needed on the streets.
“Public safety is always going to be No. 1,” Weir said.
Weir succeeds Don Reimal who is retiring after eight years as mayor. He was on the council for 12 years before that. He had endorsed Schultz.
Schultz leaves after 12 years on the council. He said in going door to door for this election, voters generally expressed satisfaction with the city’s overall direction but did express some concerns about Independence Power and Light and its rates.
He stressed that he insisted on running a positive campaign.
“We tried to win this campaign strictly on experience and activities. ... I congratulate Eileen and wish her and the council the best,” Schultz said
Weir and other council members are sworn in later this month. Weir’s election as mayor creates a vacancy in the 4th District, which is the southwest part of the city. There are still two years on her term. The council will address that vacancy.
Weir stressed that Schultz is well respected in the community, where he has deep roots.
“I know that Jim will continue to serve his community,” she said.
“It’s been a very good 12 years” on the council, Schultz said. “Independence has been very good to us.”