Madison County Treasurer and county Board Chairman Republican candidate Kurt Prenzler
Madison County Board Chairman-elect Kurt Prenzler attributes his win Tuesday to running a "very positive" campaign and connecting with voters on a property tax cut referendum - which they overwhelmingly approved.
"I think voters really endorsed that," he said.
Earlier this year, Prenzler and his allies gathered signatures to get the tax cut question on the ballot, arguing that the county was over-taxing property owners by taking in between $3-4 million more than it needs on an annual basis. But that effort was met with fierce opposition by his opponent Alan Dunstan and his allies who argued that a tax cut would adversely impact services and public safety.
On Tuesday, Madison County voters approved the referendum which reduces the maximum property tax rate from 25 to 20 percent of equalized assessed valuation. It passed by a margin of 79 to 21 percent, or 96,300 to 25,469.
Prenzler, a Republican who was elected in 2010 as county Treasurer and re-elected in 2014, eked out a narrow victory over Democrat Dunstan, who has held the position of chairman for more than a decade.
Prenzler received 62,499 votes to Dunstan's 61,993. His margin of victory was 506 votes, or 50.2 to 49.8 percent.
He will lead the county board with a new majority of Republican county board members.
His priorities are to have "better ethics" and lower taxes, he said on Wednesday morning.
He also said he planned to reach out to both sides of the board.
"I want to hear what both parties have to say," he said. "We have had a culture that when bad things happen people are afraid to speak up."
Prenzler was outspent in the race by Dunstan by a margin of approximately 5-1.
Much of the campaign funding Dunstan received came from asbestos lawyers who practice in Madison County courts - the busiest asbestos docket in the country.