Hut Hutson fended off political newcomer Augustus Shaw for the final seat on the Tempe City Council in Tuesday's election.
Hutson, who touted a record of fiscal responsibility, overcame growing scrutiny over his handling of the city's Industrial Development Authority funds.
"It's the culmination of 40 years of good community and volunteer work," Hutson said. "I'm just pleased that the citizens of Tempe are allowing me to take the next step."
Shaw, who campaigned on the promise to refund his councilman's salary if the voters were dissatisfied, finished with 48 percent.
"I'm disappointed that I didn't get a chance to fight for discrimination and inequality," Shaw said. "I'm disappointed that I didn't get a chance to be a voice for the people."
Shaw added that Hutson would be an "appropriate" member of the council. The two men were forced into a runoff after neither garnered enough votes to win a seat outright in the March primary. Incumbents Barb Carter and Mark Mitchell won their seats outright in the primary.
Last month, during a special meeting called to address the financial condition of the authority, the group’s board voted 4-1 to re-elect Hutson treasurer, despite complaints from one board member about the accounting practices.
Hutson first ran for City Council more than 30 years ago but lost. He promised that his door will always be open to Tempe residents.
"Now it's time to get on with the city's business," he said. Hutson, a retired associate deputy warden with the Arizona Department of Corrections, said he will make Tempe Town Lake his top priority. During interviews and stump speeches, Hutson repeatedly tied Tempe's future economic success to the lake.
The night was a double victory for Hutson as he also watched voters overwhelmingly approve the 2003 general plan, which he helped write. Tempe passed the long-range development blueprint that details land use, carrying 73 percent of the vote, according to the city clerk. The plan also outlines how the city will addresses transportation, water use, public art and accessibility.