Councilman Kyle Deaver will become mayor of Waco on May 17 without having to put out a single yard sign or ask anyone for campaign contributions.
“You’d like to think it’s because you’re doing a good job,” Deaver said a few days before Saturday’s election, in which he was unopposed. “I don’t know if it’s that or nobody wants the job.”
But other council members say Deaver has already earned his place at the head of the table.
“I think he’ll be amazing,” District 4 Councilman Dillon Meek said. “I think Kyle is experienced and wise. I think he is going to carry on the torch well that Mayor Duncan has carried so well. . . . I’m thrilled to serve under him.”
Deaver will be sworn in May 17 to replace Malcolm Duncan Jr., who is stepping down after four years in office.
Deaver, 52, is expected to be a departure from the gregarious Duncan in style but not substance. Duncan routinely put in 40-plus hours a week for the volunteer position, serving on numerous boards and convening leaders from nonprofit groups, government and business to solve community issues. The fruits of his labor include a revamped animal shelter and the Prosper Waco antipoverty initiative, on which Deaver will serve as a board member.
“I’ve learned a lot from watching Malcolm in that role,” Deaver said. “He’s done a fantastic job reaching across to other forms of government. I really applaud what he’s done there and I don’t want us to lose any of that momentum.”
But Deaver said he will have to balance his mayoral duties with his business affairs, which include ownership and legal roles at American Bank and American Guaranty Title.
“I’m going to have to take a different kind of approach,” he said. “I wish I could dive into that depth. But the reality for me is that we have a wonderful staff, a great city manager, city attorney, municipal judge and city secretary. We have a great council that’s willing to take on different roles. I’m not going to say I’ll delegate everything, but I won’t be able to do it full time.”
Deaver said he also hopes to continue Duncan’s emphasis on collecting and analyzing data on city operations and sharing it with the public.
“I think transparency is really important so citizens can understand what’s working and what’s not working,” he said. “Then again, I don’t know that there’s anyone in Waco as obsessed with data as Malcolm is.”
Other council members say Deaver has shown himself to be a thoughtful presence on the council.
“He’s a quiet person, but ultimately what he’s doing is thinking, really absorbing the issue,” said District 2 Councilwoman Alice Rodriguez, who has been on the council for much of the last quarter-century. “He listens and then he makes his judgment call. . . . One thing I’ve noticed is that he’s real open, that he listens.”
With typical bluntness, Duncan puts it another way.
“He’s much more considerate than I am,” Duncan said. “He thinks before he talks, unlike me. He does a really good job looking at both sides.”
He said Deaver brings important skills to the council. Deaver knows the world of nonprofit groups as a board member of the Waco Foundation and through other community work, Duncan said. He knows city issues as a former Plan Commission member.
And Deaver’s experience as a business attorney, banking official and former owner of a Harley-Davidson dealership will help as the city deals with economic development, including the proposed redevelopment of the Brazos Riverfront with Catalyst Urban Development, Duncan said.
“Knowing the nuances and details of a deal is really critical on something like that,” he said.
Deaver said economic development is indeed a priority, and like Duncan, he wants to make sure that new employment opportunities benefit those who are currently unemployed or underemployed.
That may mean improving skills for workers and incentivizing companies to move into lower-income parts of town.
He said he’s an enthusiastic supporter of Prosper Waco, which seeks to coordinate nonprofit, government and business players in a coherent effort to improve income, health care and education.
“I think we’re in the early stage of seeing some progress,” Deaver said. “At least we’re facing the poverty problem. I think we’ll make progress because we’re all working together and measuring what we’re doing.”
This isn’t the first time Deaver has taken Duncan’s old job. In June 2012, the council chose him to fill the District 5 council seat Duncan vacated when he was elected mayor. Deaver was elected to the seat without opposition in 2013 and defeated challenger Robert Cervantes this year.
Waco City Council will likely do interviews and select a candidate for Deaver’s District 5 seat in June, city officials said.
Deaver said becoming mayor hasn’t been a longtime ambition. In fact, he didn’t consider becoming a councilman until he was on the Plan Commission and friends urged him to think about it.
Deep Waco roots
But his roots run deep in Waco. Deaver’s maternal grandfather is Waco broadcasting pioneer Buddy Bostick, and Deaver grew up mowing the lawn at the KWTX studio. He spent his teen years working the teleprompters and cameras in a nicotine-stained newsroom, where his father, Ray Deaver, was station manager.
After he graduated from Baylor University, he went to work full time for the station.
“My long-term plan was to run the station,” he said. “I went into ad sales, but after about three years, I decided I didn’t want to do it. Being a salesman was not the best thing for me.”
He joined his younger brother, John, at Baylor Law School, then clerked at law firms in Dallas and Austin — experiences that confirmed for him that he belonged in Waco. He and his wife, Diane, raised two now-grown children here, Nick and Morgan.
“I’ve always knew it was a great place to raise a family,” Deaver said. “I always thought Waco had a lot of opportunity, and I always thought it would continue to get better and have more things to do. I liked the proximity of Dallas and Austin and Fort Worth. But more and more we find ourselves staying in town on weekends and enjoying what Waco has to offer.”