Even in defeat, City councilor Charles Yancey made it clear that he is not going away. The longest-serving member of Boston's City Council may have come up short at the polls Tuesday, but he vowed to continue to be a voice for the community.
"I'm not going away," Yancey said to crowd of around 30 supporters at the Unity Sports & Cultural Club in Dorchester after conceding his race to challenger Andrea Campbell. Our work is not done yet. God is not finished with us yet. We still have a lot of work to do."
Unofficial election results from City Hall reported that Yancey received only 38.41 percent of the vote, losing out to Campbell, who took 61.33 percent. Campbell beat Yancey by 1,610 of the 7,026 votes cast in District 4.
While Yancey himself was gracious about the involuntary end of his career in public service and steered clear of remarks about Campbell, other veteran members of Boston's elected black community were more direct.
"There are going to be people that are going to know, and probably sooner rather than later, that they made a mistake, because no one has worked as hard as Charles has," Rep. Gloria Fox said to reporters before Yancey's own remarks.
Fox said she doesn't know what kind of councilor Campbell will be since she's unfamiliar with any significant work she's done on behalf of the community.
"One election doesn't make a complete changing of the guard," Fox said, adding that "all change isn't necessarily good."
Yancey knew he was in trouble after a devastating September preliminary election that left him trailing Campbell by 24 percentage points. The well-funded Campbell, 33, waged a fierce campaign against Yancey and pitched to voters a message of change in the community and in City Hall.
In the preliminary, Campbell soundly beat Yancey in five of the six wards within the district and tied in the sixth, leading to a rout of the incumbent at a margin of 57.92 percent to 33.87 percent of the vote in Campbell's favor. That margin of victory for Campbell held during Tuesday's two-candidate showdown.
The preliminary vote wasn't the only part of the race where Yancey had a disadvantage. From the beginning of her candidacy until the latest financial reporting deadline on Oct. 15, Campbell had spent over 4.5 times what Yancey had on the race.
Factor in the race's extremely low turnout and it's clear how Campbell's momentum translated into campaign donations and later, into votes. Based on the October financing data, Yancey's campaign spent an average of around $14.15 on each of his 2,699 votes, while Campbell spent around $41.69 on each of her 4,309 supporters.
Terrance Johnson of Dorchester considered Campbell's argument for new blood on the council before deciding to back Yancey.
"I had to ask myself, did I know enough about Campbell, and I really didn't," Johnson said. "Her record here, in the inner city and what she's done for us, it's not much of a record."
Johnson told WGBH News that it may be time for Yancey to step aside, but what weighed on him the most in his vote was whether Campbell is the right person to replace him.
"And so I stuck with old faithful over here, Mr. Yancey," Johnson said.
Eileen Reilly came to the polls not to vote for Campbell, but to vote against Yancey, she said. Reilly said she's upset by the lack of response to gun crimes in the district.
"We live in the city and I expect there will be trouble, and I've lived here pretty much my whole life, but the shootings are bothering me and so I think it's time for a change," Reilly said.
A trademark of Yancey's career has long been his fervent support of building a new high school in Mattapan, a project that has been stalled or rejected by mayors and fellow councilors for decades. Yet even in defeat, Yancey will pursue his most infamous goal.
"And the mayor of Boston is going to sign that loan order to build that high school," Yancey told the crowd near the end of his remarks. "He's going to do it."