Westminster native Kevin E. Dayhoff has dreamed of being mayor of his hometown since 1958, when he ran away from home on his red tricycle and ended up meeting then-Mayor Joseph M. Mathias at City Hall.
Last night, Dayhoff's dream came true.
The 47-year-old self-employed businessman was elected mayor of Westminster by a narrow margin, defeating challenger and fellow council member Suzanne P. Albert by 51 votes. Dayhoff received 423 of the 807 votes cast to Albert's 372.
In the four-way race for two Common Council seats, incumbent Damian L. Halstad was victorious, receiving 587 votes, the greatest number of any of the candidates. Challenger Roy L. Chiavacci, a member of the city's planning and zoning commission, finished second with 487 votes, unseating incumbent Edward S. Calwell Sr., a 12-year veteran.
Dayhoff, his face ruddy from a full day of outdoor campaigning, was ecstatic as election results were announced after last night's Common Council meeting at City Hall.
"I'm excited," said Dayhoff, who was elected to the council in 1999. "There's a fresh wind blowing through Westminster -- a fresh wind of a customer-service-oriented city government that knows that its citizens are its No. 1 customers."
Dayhoff thanked Albert for running a "good" campaign saying, "She needs to be applauded for her efforts."
If she had been elected, the 68-year-old Albert would have been Westminster's first female mayor.
Voter turnout exceeded the expectations of organizers, with 11 percent of the city's 7,117 registered voters casting ballots. In addition, 36 absentee ballots were cast, double the usual number, said city clerk John Dutterer.
Calwell received 265 votes in the council race. Challenger and Baltimore City police Sgt. Frank E. Wagner Jr. received 152 votes.
Chiavacci, a Carroll Lutheran Village vice president and a retired state police captain, said he was "pleasantly surprised" by his win. "I'm just excited about the opportunities," he said. "I will do the best I can to serve [residents'] interests."
Halstad, a 39-year-old lawyer who has been on the council since 1993, did not take his win for granted.
"I was in the delivery room with my wife on Wednesday and I was thinking, 'Maybe I should be out campaigning,'" he said.
Halstad and his wife, Leigh, became parents for the third time when their son Christopher was born.
Dayhoff, who resigned his council seat, will be sworn in as mayor May 21. A new council member will be appointed to fill his former seat June 11.