PEABODY — Peter Torigian, Michael Bonfanti, and now Ted Bettencourt.
Bettencourt, 38, joined exclusive company last night, becoming only the third person in 32 years to be elected mayor of Peabody.
"I want to thank everyone. This has been an incredible experience ... I drew a great deal of strength from the people in this room right here," a jubilant Bettencourt told supporters at an election night party at the Azorean Brotherhood of the Divine Holy Ghost on Howley Street.
"It's been a roller-coaster ride. I haven't slept in weeks. I've got blisters all over my feet, my little girls are mad at me because I haven't spent much time with them in three months, and my wife has a list of chores for me a mile long now."
The four-term city councilor-at-large, who grew up in Peabody and graduated from Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, beat Sean Fitzgerald by 3,723 votes in what was the biggest voter turnout for a city election in a decade. About 40 percent of the city's 34,000 registered voters cast ballots, likely drawn to the polls by only the second mayoral election since 1979 that did not involve an incumbent.
When the final tally was announced, thunderous applause erupted from several hundred Bettencourt supporters. Then "Eye of the Tiger," the famed "Rocky" theme song by the band Survivor, came blasting through the loud speakers, and Bettencourt, who had spent most of the night at his parents' house in South Peabody, came through the curtains with his wife and three little girls to a big ovation.
"When I saw he won, I knew it was the best thing that ever happened to the city of Peabody," said Vicki Lobb, who said she has known the mayor-elect since he was 5 years old. "He's a great guy, and the city of Peabody is so lucky to have him as our next mayor."