Joyce Craig is the first woman ever elected mayor of Manchester.
That’s after she beat four-term incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas on Tuesday by more than 1,500 votes.
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It felt like a party – the top 40 hits were playing, people were screaming and green and white Craig signs filled the room at the campaign headquarters at the Puritan Conference Center in Manchester.
The race’s outcome was clear, less than an hour after the polls closed. And Craig overwhelmingly won.
"Ladies and gentlemen - Mayor-Elect Joyce Craig," blasted over the sound system, as the crowd roared with cheer.
As Craig took the stage surrounded by her parents, husband and kids, she thanked her supporters but said winning the election is only the beginning.
“So although we have been working hard for the past months – the real work of building a stronger Manchester begins now," Craig said. "Manchester has incredible potential and to make the most of it we need to work together to build on our strengths and make sure Manchester is working for everyone.”
The former alderman and Democrat told the crowd her priorities in the corner office include improving city schools, reducing crime and addressing the opioid crisis.
Supporter Daane Crook said it was simply time for new leadership in the city.
“Manchester in particular really needs someone to grab the horns and work on those problems and inspire people to join the team and help get it done," Crook said. "That’s leadership in my view and that is the kind of person I believe she is.”
After the race was called, Gatsas took the stage at his campaign headquarters down the road at the Derryfield Country Club.
“The only thing that ever gets you ready for this is being an athlete – you understand when you win and when you lose and you are gracious and both ways," Gatsas told his supporters. "I want to thank everyone that is here and all the people that helped me.”
Gatsas, who’s held elected office in Manchester for nearly two decades, said although he lost, he will be paying close attention to the city’s well-being.
This election was no easy win for Craig – she’s been campaigning since she lost to Gatsas by just 64 votes in the 2015 mayoral election. This time she hired more staff, raised thousands more in campaign contributions and had dozens of more volunteers on board.
Jane Haigh was one of them. She’s been making phone calls and knocking on doors since June. Haigh said it will be a nice change to have a woman leading the city but it’s Craig’s progressive politics that really excite her.
“I think it’s fantastic," she said after the race was called. "I think it’s like turning over a new leaf for Manchester – ready to move into the future, very excited," she said.
Craig was just as optimistic about her home city.
“Manchester’s best days are still ahead of us and I cannot wait to get to work as your mayor, thank you so much," Craig said, followed by loud cheers.
Craig starts her new job - in January.