The race for mayor in liberal Pueblo, Colorado, was turned upside down Tuesday when a Republican member of the city council ran for mayor and won.
Back in November 2022, city council president and owner of Graham’s Grill and Ruby’s, Heather Graham, announced her run for mayor of Pueblo, Colorado. Graham may have seemed like a long shot, being a Republican in the famously liberal city.
“This community that we love has been going in the wrong direction the last few years. I just can’t sit back and do nothing,” Graham said when she launched her campaign, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. “My short time in office has shown me how change is possible and not enough is happening.”
She went on to say that she was too limited in being able to make meaningful change for Pueblo on the council, so she wanted to trade up for the mayor’s office in the famously left-wing state.
Graham ran against Democrat incumbent Mayor Nick Gradisar.
Last night a Republican, Heather Graham, won the Pueblo Colorado Mayor’s race, beating @GovofCO buddy Nick Gradisar! When you know the back story, it is a HUGE upset, and win for Pueblo…it started with Candace Rivera ousting Bo Ortiz (@JenaGriswold buddy) in 2022 County Clerk… pic.twitter.com/jBYKodIAJT
— Heidi Ganahl (@heidiganahl) January 24, 2024
In the end, it appears that Graham’s message was a winning one with voters.
On Tuesday, Graham won her election and Gradisar conceded after the first round of returns were reported, news station KKTV reported.
The results won’t be made official until Feb. 1, but the early results seemed clear, with Graham’s count standing at 14,171 to Gradisar’s 8,355.
Graham won a contest in a crowded field, as nine candidates declared their candidacy. But in the end, Graham came away with 62.9 percent of the vote to Gradisar’s 37.1 percent.
The winning candidate was born and raised in Pueblo and graduated from Pueblo South High School in 2007.
When he was elected in 2019, Gradisar was actually the town’s first mayor in 60 years, as the position had been eliminated, the Colorado Sun reported at the time.
Despite Pueblo’s long leftward tilt, though, the town did flip to Trump in 2016, despite voting for Obama, the Sun reported. Pueblo flipped back to blue for Joe Biden in 2020.
Graham was quick to point out that she is also the first woman to be elected mayor.
“The first female mayor, that’s exciting … it’s been a long run. I’ve had lots of help along the way and I’m excited to carry this title for the next four years,” Graham said, according to KOAA-TV.
“I think that people have been dissatisfied with the leadership over the last five years and they’re ready for a change,” she added.
Her supporters were thrilled with the victory.
“I’m surrounded by tons of citizens who had concerns that they brought to me and hopefully over the next four years, we’re able to do something about it,” she added.
Graham said that she is looking forward to starting up her transition team to plan for taking office.
“I’m most looking forward to taking the concerns of the constituents and actually providing solutions to the problems that they’re having,” she said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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