Challenger Travis Mitchell soundly defeated incumbent Diane Hervol Saturday collecting 58.6 percent of the vote in a runoff in which more residents voted than cast ballots in the original May election, although, still, only 7 percent of Kyle’s registered voters turned out.
The May 7 election ended in a tie with each candidate receiving 510 votes. Hervol actually wound up with one less vote, 509, this time around. Mitchell was favored by 722 voters.
Hervol is a two-term council member, having won her seat for the first time in 2010. Mitchell, making his first foray into politics, is the owner of Mitchell Motorsports and touted his experience as a local small business owner as a reason voters should support his candidacy.
“I was really optimistic about how today’s vote would turn out,” said Mitchell, who collected an astounding 65.4 percent of the votes cast today. He said the major difference between the runoff and the original election was “This time I worked harder. I focused much more on door knocking and engaging with the voters.”
Mitchell said in the weeks between the May 7 election and today “I spent six days a week, four to six hours a day knocking on doors” and this time around, he acknowledged, he worked from a list of those with a history of voting in Kyle instead of just random visitations.
Mitchell said he plans on spending the first weeks on the Council “getting my feet wet and learning the intricacies of city government from the inside. But my focus has always been on finding ways to help small businesses in Kyle and I plan to devote a lot of my energies to doing just that.”
In a statement posted on Facebook, Mitchell said:
“With a few exceptions, being elected to the Kyle City Council is one of the greatest honors of my life. So many people supported me going down the stretch, starting with my wife. I am grateful and humbled to be given this opportunity. I will do my best to serve our town with integrity, vision, and a strong ear to the citizens of our great city.
“I would like to thank Councilmember Hervol for her years of service to this community,” Mitchell’s Facebook posting continued. “I know she will continue to be an advocate for the citizens and I wish her the best. And to the people who voted in their first local election this year — you are my heroes. You are the reason I decided to run and who I wanted to reach. You are the future of Kyle.”
Mayor Todd Webster said he’s looking forward to working with Mitchell on the City Council.
“I’m sure he will bring a fresh, new perspective to our deliberations that will help us a lot,” the Mayor said. “I am very comfortable with the notion that he will work very hard to be a successful council representative.”
Hervol said she was “disappointed, but I congratulate Travis and wish him the best of luck. I hope he manages to represent all the citizens of Kyle.”
Hervol did not rule out another run for a Council seat, saying “I’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds.” But, she added, “It’s a different political world out there today than what it used to be, particularly with social media and Facebook playing such an important role in the process.”
She said Mitchell had the financial resources to hire a consultant for the runoff which, along with a phone list she claimed Mitchell had and she didn’t, gave him an advantage.
“A whole lot of money was spent in this campaign,” Hervol said. “It was phenomenal.”
Hervol posted the following on Facebook:
“I would like to thank all of my supporters. It was my honor to serve the citizens of Kyle for the last six years. Even though the results were not what we anticipated, I am proud of the race we ran. I congratulate Travis Mitchell and I wish him all the best.”