Jim Richardson’s long run as mayor has come to an end, with Ryan Toussaint moving into that role from his council seat based on unofficial results from Tuesday’s election.
With mail-in ballots counted and all six precincts reporting, Toussaint pulled in 1,025 votes, or 59.4 percent, compared to Richardson’s 696 votes, or 40.3 percent. Five ballots had write-in votes.
The council will now have to replace Toussaint, who still had two years left on his first term as a councilman.
Although the mayor has no more power than any other council member and serves mostly to chair the meetings, Toussaint represents a new generation on the council.
In a pre-election forum, Toussaint said it is most important for the mayor to lead the council to consensus as a guide, to restructure policies and to make the permit process as simple as possible.
“A strong mayor can help increase revenue … and reduce taxes,” he said, as well as help the city meet state mandates on controlling stormwater and treating wastewater.
Toussaint was elected to the council in 2016 in a very close race.
Richardson, 80, has been involved in Solvang city government since he was appointed to the Planning Commission in 2000. He joined the Parks & Recreation Commission in 2005, and when a seat opened that year on the City Council, he was chosen to serve out an unexpired term. In 2006, Richardson ran to retain the seat and won.
Two years later, he ran for mayor, was elected and has held the job ever since, frequently running for re-election unopposed.