Mike Burke entered the ballroom at Westin Crown Center at about 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. A campaign worker escorted him to the stage, clapping aggressively in an attempt to ward off any displays of pity or sorrow.
Keeping with the spirit of a campaign that florists complained was too nice, Burke said Kansas City is ready to move ahead, even if he isn't going to be the guy leading the way. "Kansas City is such a wonderful city," he said. "We have so many things to be proud of. I'm pleased that, as a result of tonight's election, we will have a mayor that will help tell that Kansas City story and make us proud again."
Burke took the stage after calling Sly James and conceding the race.
Burke said he told James that he was at his service.
Burke was joined onstage by his family, campaign manager Jason Parson, former mayors Richard Berkley and Kay Barnes, former state Rep. Jason Grill and University of Missouri-Kansas City student government president Klassie Alcine, and others. Burke's wife, Melinda, smiled through clenched teeth.
James and Burke traded more compliments than barbs during the campaign. Burke said the positive race "set a standard." Voters didn't flock to the polls in appreciation of the warm vibes, however. Asked by reporters about the low turnout north of the river, Burke suggested that citizens had been lulled to sleep.
Burke promised that he wasn't going to take it easy until after April 5, the day Kansas City holds its third election in less than three months. The vote will determine the fate of the city's earning tax. "I'm not going to take my vacation for two weeks because we need to pass that earnings tax," Burke said.