AUSTIN (KXAN) — Kirk Watson was elected as Austin’s next mayor in the City’s runoff election Tuesday, winning against Rep. Celia Israel by the smallest margin in an Austin mayoral race in decades.

KXAN’s Grace Reader interviewed the mayor-elect one-on-one Wednesday to see what his plans are, and how he’ll work to fulfill the desires of not only his but also Israel’s voters along the way.

Talk a little bit about what you’d like voters to know after last night’s results came in.

Watson: Well, I want them to know how much I appreciate them. I appreciate everybody that participated in the process, whether they voted for me or they voted for my opponent. Because ultimately, we’re all Austinites. And that’s the other thing I want them to know; I want him to know that today is a new beginning, and yesterday was the end of an election cycle. Today is the new beginning of where we want to be in the future. And ultimately, we all have one big thing in common, and that is, we love this town. So it’s time for us to face the big challenges so that we don’t put at risk those things we love about Austin.

You have continuously said throughout your campaign that starting Day 1, you’re going to hit the ground running. Today is Day 1, so what’s happening today?

Watson: Well, most of what today’s bid has been reaching out to people to say thank you. There’s been a lot of work that went into this and a lot of people that have given me a lot of their time, money, and toil. So I want to say thank you to them. It’s also been a great morning with people that have reached out to me, I’m gratified by the level of excitement that there seems to be about this new beginning.

Sounds like Celia reached out to you yesterday and conceded. What did she say? And what would you like her voters to know about you?

Watson: We had a very. very good conversation, and we talked about the campaign a little bit. She was very gracious in terms of congratulating me and wishing me good luck.

And what I want the people that supported her to know is a couple of things. One is that I deeply understand one of the key messages that those voters were looking for in that campaign, and that is that this town must focus on equity and inclusivity and diversity if we want to be the Austin that we want to be. I’ve always agreed with that. And that was one of the things where there wasn’t really disagreement between my opponent and me, but I want her supporters to know that.

I also want them to know that, like I’ve said before, we’re all in this together. And I look forward to being a mayor that is responsive to their concerns and their needs, just as well. And that, you know, just there’s been an election, that election is over, and now we have to come together and I’m ready to do that.

This was a very, very tight race, I think one of the closest we have ever had in Travis County. Celia actually won Travis County by 17 votes. Were you surprised by that? And what does that say about this election and the two candidates?

Watson: Well, it says that it was a hotly contested race, as races for mayor really ought to be, particularly when you have an open seat like this. What it also says, I think, is that people are passionate about their city. So those are good things. Those are not things to get worked up about or worry about. It shows what we already know about this great town. And that is it is passionate about his politics, for good reason, and it’s passionate about the people that are leading it. So you know, it was that kind of election.

Now that you have been elected, what can we hold you to the fire to what can we expect you to get done in two years?

Watson: Well, I think what people need to be prepared for is a real immediacy to what it is we do. You know, I’ve said it before, I said on the campaign trail, I said it last night after the results were in, we don’t have any time to screw around right now.

There are a lot of things that need to be done at City Hall, whether it relates to affordability and cost of living, or crime, or transportation and traffic, or how we addressed those living homeless. We need to shake up City Hall, we need to focus on basics, and we need to do that with a real sense of immediacy and urgency. I think people ought to expect that from me. I’ll be thoughtful. I want to hear. I want to listen. But I don’t think anybody right now isn’t frustrated and wants me to be overly patient in where we go. We need to get moving.

Any thoughts on the makeup of city council?

Watson: I’m very eager to be working with the city, this city council, I have the deepest respect for and have had contact with everybody that’s currently on the council.

So, you know, one of the things I like about governing is when it’s done right, in my view, it’s a team. It’s a team sport. And that’s, I think, one of the ways that I was successful. The first time I was mayor, we had a good team of council members and members of the city council, and I think it was one of the reasons I was successful in the Texas Capitol. With that, being able to work with different people in different groups. So I’m eager to be working with these people I respect so much so that we can be the kind of team that Austin needs as we go forward.

Is there anything else that you would like folks to know or anything you’d like them to know about how your night when and how excited you are?

Watson: Well, sure. Two things. One is that, you know, this is the third time for me to be elected mayor of Austin, Texas, and I’m as excited right now as I was 25 years ago when I first was elected. I love this town. It’s been so good to me, and I love the people of this town. So this is a very exciting thing, and that leads to the second thing, which is I want them to know how thankful I am. And I thank them and I look forward to being their mayor again and doing the work that they demand of me and want me to do.