SALEM — Mayor Kim Driscoll won re-election to a fourth term in office Tuesday, knocking off former City Councilor Paul Prevey in her first serious challenge since first taking office in 2005.
Driscoll won with 65 percent of the vote, according to her campaign at 9 p.m., before results were official.
"I'm elated," said Driscoll before she spoke to a crowd of about 150 supporters at the Hawthorne Hotel. "It's validation of the direction the city is headed in. I'm happy and humbled to have another four years."
The crowd erupted when Driscoll walked into the crowded banquet room, with supporters holding signs that read "We Are One Salem" and "Salem is for Everyone." As she walked onto the stage, the crowed chanted, "Driscoll, Driscoll, Driscoll."
"What an amazing night. What a terrific city," Driscoll told the crowd. "And what a journey we've been on. Tonight was about four more years."
At that, the crowd began chanting, "Four more years. Four more years."
Driscoll thanked her supporters and family, including her father and sister, who flew in for the election. Noting the strain the campaign created for her family, including her husband, Nick, and their three children, Driscoll said, "We're definitely going to Disney World."
Driscoll also thanked Prevey for his campaign, drawing applause from the crowd.
"I'm glad we had a chance to have an exchange of ideas," she said. "It's healthy. Let's all do what we can to keep Salem moving forward."
Driscoll, 51, ran on a record of sound fiscal management that she said allowed the city to dig out of a $3.5 million deficit and grow into the "hip, historic hub of the North Shore."
She raised a record $150,000 in campaign money, dwarfing the $24,000 raised by Prevey. In the final days before the election, she posted two professionally made videos on her campaign website extolling her administration's accomplishments.
With another four-year term, Driscoll will become Saelm's second-longest-serving mayor since Francis Collins held office from 1950 to 1969.
Prevey, a 50-year-old retired federal probation officer, ran a campaign holding Driscoll responsible for what he called the "overdevelopment" of the city at the expense of neighborhoods and "quality of life" for residents. An openly gay man who is married to a Mexican immigrant, he also opposed the sanctuary ordinance that Driscoll endorsed.
Prevey stepped up his criticism of Driscoll on Tuesday, appearing on a Boston radio show and accusing her and her supporters of "divisive politics and divisive rhetoric" during the campaign.
Driscoll, a former Salem city councilor and deputy city manager in Chelsea, became the city's first female mayor in 2005, beating incumbent Mayor Stanley Usovicz in the preliminary election and City Councilor Kevin Harvey in the final. Driscoll breezed to victories against fringe candidates in 2009 and 2013.
Driscoll lives on Glenn Avenue with her husband, Nick, and their three children, Delaney, Ailish and Nicholas. Prevey lives on Freeman Road with his partner, Saul Barragan.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.