A political newcomer will become the leader of Iowa’s second-largest city.

Brad Hart was elected mayor of Cedar Rapids last night, defeating Monica Vernon in a runoff election. Hart, a lawyer who’s never run for public office before, got 54-percent of the vote to 45-percent for Vernon, a former city council member who’s also run for Congress. Hart says voters may have wanted someone with a new perspective.

Hart says, “We tried to get a message out that we’re going to be inclusive and accessible and just make the best decisions we can, and I think that resonated.” Hart says even though it will be his first time holding office, he doesn’t expect major challenges in his new role.

“It’s really just working hard to develop chemistry with the city council and the new council members, making sure we all understand our role, and that we’re going to leave politics at the door and just make the best decisions for Cedar Rapids,” Hart says. “That shouldn’t be that hard.”

The election went to a runoff after Vernon and Hart were the top two candidates in a field of eight people who ran in November’s general election. Hart is expected to take over from current Mayor Ron Corbett on January 2nd. Corbett is stepping down to run for governor.

(By Katarina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio)