SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Even after all the precincts reported their results, and incumbent mayor Jim Langfelder addressed his supporters, it still hadn’t set in for mayor-elect Misty Buscher.
“It’s surreal,” Buscher said at her election night party Tuesday. “I almost can’t believe it.”
Buscher defeated Langfelder by less than a eight hundred votes. Langfelder, who was chasing his third term, thanked his supporters Tuesday, but also alluded to the money his opponents through into the race.
“This mayor’s race was about the clash of two titans,” Langfelder said during his concession speech. “The power of the mayor’s office versus the power of the purse, and the power of the purse one. I appreciate and thank Treasurer Buscher for running a very challenging campaign along with her dedicated supporters. We will work on a smooth transition so our good works continue for the betterment of Springfield’s future.”
Buscher served as city treasurer for the past eight years before deciding to challenge Langfelder. Her campaign greatly outspent the incumbent’s, and the backing of several local trade unions was enough to put her over the edge. Her top priorities for the beginning of her first term are police recruitment, “beautification” of the city and improving infrastructure across town.
“I need to get my transition team together,” Buscher said. “So we can talk start talking about the leaders within our city government, as far as department heads managers that will lead the city forward and move it to the direction that we want to do with beautification of the city infrastructure, streets, sewers, and bringing new jobs to the community.”
Langfelder held an early lead after mail-in ballots and early votes were totaled, but even he knew the 1,300 vote margin likely wouldn’t be enough.
“The early vote was surprising,” Langfelder said. “We thought we’d have a larger margin. So I knew right, then it should have been maybe 15%. And then it had been spot on.”
Buscher slowly chipped away throughout the night, taking the lead once around 70 percent of precincts reported in and never looked back.
She will be the second woman to be elected mayor in the city’s history. In her bid to make history, she denied Langfelder a bit of history, too. If he had won a third term, he would have been the first mayor to serve more than two terms for Springfield since the 1940’s.
Langfelder had a long list of projects he hopes that Buscher continues to push for when she takes office. the incumbent found himself in the middle of many fights in the city during his tenure. His attempts to handle those situations without broad input led to some tension between him and city council.
“Treasurer Buscher is going to have a tough time,” Langfelder said. “Hopefully, she has the fortitude like I did to do what’s in the best interest of the city of Springfield moving forward. And hopefully she does.”
Buscher said her plan for dealing with those situations is to communicate and include more perspectives in her decisions. She said she experienced first-hand the shortcomings the mayor had when it came to collaborating.
“I will communicate in a different manner,” Buscher said. “I don’t need all the fingers on one hand for the number of meetings I was included in with the mayor’s office in eight years. That will not be the case with the clerk and the treasurer and the aldermen. We will communicate with them. We will involve them. It’s their city to and they’re also elected, that respect needs to be there. So that will be different for me right from the get go.”