Sly James wins Kansas City mayoral race

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Sylvester "Sly" James was elected mayor of Kansas City Tuesday.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, James had 54 percent of the votes, while Mike Burke had 46 percent of the votes. In Burke's concession speech, he pledged to help James in any way he could.

DISCUSS | How will Sly James perform as the city's next mayor?

A jubilant crowd of hundreds of Sly James supporters celebrate his win at a victory party at 18th and Vine.

James is a 59 year old lawyer born and raised on Kansas City's Eastside.

This was his first run for public office, but he raised the most money and was the first to start campaigning.

James says he expects to bring a new system of accountability for delivering city services.

And he says he's bring a new attitude to City Hall.

His victory marks the second election in a row that Kansas City has chosen a mayor who has never before held public office.

James replaces Mark Funkhouser after the incumbent failed to make it past the primary last month.

It was a tough election considering the candidates' similarities . James and Burke are both attorneys, both friends, both democrats, both KC natives, and both view many issues the same way .

In February, James beat Burke by 38 votes out of more than 50,800 cast in the primary where only about 15 percent turned out.

James, 59, brings decades of legal experience and runs his own law firm. He said in the past his experience as a mediator will bring people together.

According to his website , in 1971 he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War where he served as a military police officer for four years in California, the Philippines, and Japan and received an honorable discharge in 1975. When his service ended, Sly returned home to Kansas City and graduated from Rockhurst College before earning his law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1983.

Burke, 61, has more than 30 years of experience dealing with the city government on a variety of economic development, infrastructure and civic projects. Burke has served as a part of the city's government as a councilman in the 1980s and worked with the city's leaders on a variety of high-profile boards and commissions.

As Kansas City's mayor, James is faced with a city budget in turmoil and the prospect of losing an estimated $200 million per year if voters next month decide to phase out Kansas City's earnings tax. A high murder rate and the steady loss of business across the state line into Kansas also are issues that will confront the new administration.

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