CHARLESTOWN — Political newcomer Treva Hodges, a Democrat, defeated 16-year incumbent Republican Bob Hall for the Charlestown mayor's seat by a mere 30 votes Tuesday.
"I felt like the atmosphere was there all along,” Hodges said. “We had extremely positive engagement, whether on social media, door to door or even at the grocery store where we went."
Learning he fell short to Hodges – 1,324 to her 1,354 votes – surprised Hall.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a close race, but I thought we would win by a comparable number.”
He told a packed room of supporters at the Wilson Center the news Tuesday night, adding that he would look into whether he had grounds to request a recount.
"I don't like leaving under these terms ... but I'm proud of what everybody has done," Hall said, with emotion growing in his voice. "The good news is the council [members] are our supporters and they're good people. There's a lot at stake."
At the Charlestown Democratic headquarters at the American Legion, excitement built throughout the night as rumors of the final count spread.
"This election has been so contested and so intense and it has so much at stake,” Hodges said. “Some even had their homes at stake.”
That was one of the hot topics in the Charlestown mayoral race. Many Pleasant Ridge homeowners received fines so large, they felt forced to sell their homes at lower than market prices to a developer, who demolished the homes to make way for new construction. The issue is now being taken to court.
"I live in Pleasant Ridge. We feel like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders, because we know Treva isn't going to use eminent domain and she isn't going to make us sell our homes. She isn't going to fine us out of our homes," Ellen Keith said. "We've been fighting for five years. It's hard for me to think I won't have to get up and fight anymore. I want to cry from sheer relief."
In office, Hodges will be working with a full Republican council and clerk treasurer.
"This gives us a chance to show people it's not about being Republican or Democrat, it's about being from Charlestown, and I think that's very different than we've been feeling for the past four years for sure," Hodges said. "I don't see them as Republicans now. They are representatives for their districts and I trust that they will represent their constituents."
Hodges ran on a platform promising change, saying she will be open to hear and receive feedback from the community.
"She's going to make a lot of positive changes for this community and I can't wait for her to get in that seat and get started. She's going to bring this town back together," said Sherri Coyne, a life-long resident of Charlestown. "It's been the same ol' way for 16 years. It is time for a change. We need new faces, new ideas and we need voices to be heard."
Kim Shultz worked the polls for Hodges at the 4-H fairgrounds, standing in the brisk air for four hours.
"I was shocked," Shultz said of the win. "She's the first woman mayor in Charlestown. I can't wait. It's time for a nice change."
Jeff Shepherd Sr. ran against Hall in 2015 for the mayor's seat, but lost. He wore a "Team Treva" shirt on Election Day.
"It's a very exciting day for the people of Charlestown. Now, we have somebody who will listen to the citizens," Shepherd said. "Treva, she will listen to the people and she will hear their concerns out ... She's a breath of fresh air for Charlestown."
Though new to the political circuit, Hodges said she is ready for the job.
"I've done so much research, gone to so many meetings, looked into urban planning," Hodges said. "I've been preparing for this for over two years."
Literally neighbors with her opponent, Hodges said there are no ill feelings personally between the two.
"I wish Ms. Hodges well," Hall said. "The city is at a critical time. The city is going to change."
That was something the two can agree upon.
"I highly anticipate that in a year, we'll be a very different Charlestown," Hodges said, adding, "but it will be for the better."