- Update: Click here to watch the reaction at Chavin when the tally was announced Tuesday night, as well as Pilla's thoughts after hearing the results.
Dennis Pilla has won a third term as Port Chester's mayor, according to unofficial election results.
"This vote is about the belief that the people in Port Chester have about our future and about how positive and hopeful it is," Pilla told an elated crowd at on Main Street.
Pilla built a steady lead as vote tallies came in from districts across Port Chester. Fellow Democrat and Trustee Dan Brakewood kept the crowded restaurant updated, leaning over his laptop before shouting out results: "Dennis just won 18!"
The incumbent mayor's lead extended to almost 400 votes before the margin became insurmountable for his Republican opponent, .
All results are unofficial until the Board of Trustees certifies the victory at a special meeting on Thursday. However, unofficial results show Pilla took the election by nearly a 500-vote margin, with 1,564 votes to Didden's 1,076.
Some voters crossed party lines to vote for the incumbent mayor.
Annie Beguiristian, a registered Republican, said she voted for Pilla because of his efforts to clean up Port Chester – both and .
"I've lived here 18 years," Beguiristian said. "He's brought it back. I feel like it's the old Port Chester."
Pilla will return to a board with a Republican-Conservative majority that often votes as a bloc and has been able to bypass the village's Democrats on crucial votes, such as the recent the infamous federal voting rights case.
The mayor and his opponent will have to work together for another two years on the Board of Trustees after clashing on and during the campaign. Didden said the mayor was inattentive and fiscally irresponsible, and his salvos weren't always fixed on Pilla – he called downtown "" in one press release, and publicly questioned some of Port Chester's appointed professional staff.
The voting rights lawsuit appeal was also a centerpiece of the campaign, as Republicans argued a successful appeal would erase a blemish on the village, while Pilla and his supporters described it as a waste of taxpayer money.
The campaign illustrated a stark difference in styles. Didden was frequently on the offensive, criticizing the mayor on meeting attendance and code enforcement. He issued press releases frequently, and as the election edged closer, received help from some supporters in a late push to draw attention to character flaws.
Pilla issued several muted responses, but no press releases or official campaign counter-measures. Pilla described his opponent as negative and divisive, and said a Didden victory would undo several years of progress in Port Chester.
But as Didden frequently reminded the mayor, he's in the . Pilla will rely on his two fellow Democrats and will from at least one of the board's Republicans – or its lone conservative, John Branca – to meet his goals.
The mayor's fellow Democrats on the board, and Trustee , both featured prominently as the scene turned from hushed wait-and-see to a victory party Tuesday night.
Check back with Port Chester Patch for updates.
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