NEWBURYPORT — The applause grew louder with each vote count that was called into David's Tavern last night.
As the final ward was announced and written on a sheet hanging on the wall, a beaming Donna Holaday stood in the middle of the room hugging some supporters, jumping up and down with others, and listening to the cheers.
"Mayor Holaday's line," campaign volunteers began answering the cell phone. "She won!"
Holaday, 54, a councilor-at-large and the director of grant development and management at Middlesex Community College, was elected the city's next mayor yesterday with a 2,704-2,257 win over City Council President James Shanley, or a 55 percent to 45 percent win.
Holaday won in five of the six wards in the city. The only ward she did not take was Ward 3, where Shanley lives.
Holaday was first elected to the City Council in 2003. She ran unsuccessfully against John Moak in 2005. She has served as the council's Budget and Finance Committee chairwoman.
Shanley, 55, is the co-owner and operator of B Designs, a greeting card design and printing company in Amesbury. He first joined the City Council six years ago and has served two terms as the president.
"I'm emotional; I'm thrilled," Holaday said, surrounded by well-wishers and a crowd of citizens waiting to speak to her. "I'm so grateful to the voters who have given me their support."
"James ran a very good campaign," she said of her opponent. "There was no question we had an uphill battle. He had the momentum early on."
At the River Merrimac Grille, Shanley's supporters let out gasps as the numbers were totalled.
"Every candidate needs to have two speeches ready," Shanley said as the final numbers were tallied and his mayoral ambitions had slipped away.
"The numbers speak for themselves," Shanley said. "I honestly believe we all were working to make Newburyport a better place, and that is what counts."