Randy Taylor was declared the official winner of the Salisbury mayor’s race on Friday, prevailing by a total of 50 votes.
Taylor received 1,150 of 3,174 total votes cast.
Megan Outten finished second with 1,110 votes, while Jermichael Mitchell received 914 votes.
At 36.2 percent for Taylor and 34.62 percent for Outten, the outcome is one of the closest mayoral contests in Salisbury’s history.
Mail-in ballots closed the gap reported after last Thursday’s absentees count, which had Taylor leading by 65 votes. On election night, Taylor had a 56-vote lead over Outten.
The 58-year-old Camden Avenue resident will be sworn into office on Monday at 6 p.m., in the city Fire Department Headquarters on Cypress Street.
Taylor will succeed Jack Heath as the 30th mayor in the city’s history.
When interviewed by Delmarva Public Media after Election Day’s voting, Taylor appeared measured and matter-of-fact about how he won the campaign and what lies ahead.
“I think it was fiscal responsibility, but more than that it was probably transparency, which I think was missing – it’s been missing for awhile,” Taylor said. That’s what I heard in the knocking-on-doors campaign part.”
He said that too many citizens have felt disconnected from the city’s progress.
“I think it’s really essential to people being a part of what’s going on in the community, and being informed in a reasonable and measured way.”
Taylor said he is committed to progress.
“My campaign theme has always been progress with transparency – that’s essentially what I’m talking about.
“I’ve been a successful commercial banker, a business guy, and I know that we have the components to be successful as a community,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting the right direction, scaling it properly and implementing it properly.”
Taylor is a former commercial banker with M&T Bank and political conservative who now restores homes and operates a rentals business. Though Salisbury’s elections are nonpartisan, Taylor is believed to be the first Republican mayor in city history.
Six years ago, he left the banking industry to form a historic restoration business.
During the campaign, he voiced frustration with the city’s government, saying it helped propel his candidacy, though he had thought for years about seeking the mayor’s seat.
A longtime Salisbury resident, Taylor purchased his current North Camden home in 2000, converting it from a 14-unit rooming house into a grand single-family home, where he and his now former wife raised their two children.
“I saw things no one seemed to be aware of,” he said when discussing the genesis of his campaign. “I saw things happening where there didn’t seem to be broad community buy-in.”
Taylor has repeatedly questioned the manner in which the city has disposed of its surplus properties. Developers bid on these tracts – most of which have been in the city’s hands for years after the city assumed failed business sites – and the routine criticism is that developers pay far less than the assessed value.
Taylor has most recently criticized the city’s role in building a parking garage as part of Salisbury Town Center on Lot 1 – a plan that he says will result in the city losing $400,000 or more each year.
He has also assailed city spending in recent years, pointing out the city has raised property taxes five times in 11 years, while also benefiting from a 20 percent increase in the accessible base.
“The dialogue I have with people in the city is different from what you hear at council meetings,” he said, meaning the council and the citizens are not on the same page issues-wise.
While questioning some recent construction, however, Taylor maintains he is pro-development.
“I am pro-development. I am pro-Downtown. There is a lot that can be done in these seas of parking that we have Downtown,” he said.
A problem, Taylor said, is that when city officials communicate development goals,” they are “heavy on the big picture, light on the questions.”
Taylor said his life and professional experience have prepared him to serve as mayor.
“I’ve been training for this position for 25 years. I’ve been a citizen and consumer of the city’s product, so to speak.
“We can have all the cool stuff we want (in Salisbury), but we can do it in a fiscally responsible way – we can have a cool Downtown, kind of a progressive world view and at the same time have a fiscally responsible approach to it,” he said.
Salisbury’s mayor is paid $50,000 annually.