The race was tight for the three victors of the Fort Myers Beach Town Council election.
After losing last year's election, Bruce Butcher secured the win this year with 1,306 votes, followed by incumbent Anita Cereceda with 1,257 and Joanne Shamp with 1,235. The three will be sworn in at the March 20 council meeting.
In his usual calm manner, Butcher said he was excited to get the votes this go-round.
Anita Cereceda and Bruce Butcher prepare for a toast.
"You just never know. I didn't do so well last year," he said. "There's lots of opportunity for improvement on the beach, I'm looking forward to making that happen."
Butcher celebrated his victory with Cereceda at her home Tuesday night, surrounded by their friends and colleagues.
Outgoing council member Rexann Hosafros joined the activities. She said she loved being on council, but that it felt "wonderful" to step down. She's not going anywhere, though - she'll be volunteering across the street at Chapel by the Sea as well as with the Mound House and its different support groups.
Cereceda said she spent the entire day making calls and talking to people, campaigning until the last minute.
"I learned a long time ago never to take anything for granted," she said.
Cereceda said she felt this was the most important election the town's since its first ever, because the town council has so many important and impactful issues coming before it now and in the next year.
"There are some many things going on, it will take cool heads to move methodically through this next year," she said. "I think this new council will set a new tone. Hopefully a spirit of cooperation to bring the community together."
Former town mayor Ray Murphy said he was "very pleased" with the results of the evening, especially that Cereceda would remain on the dais with her knowledge and experience in the town's government.
Joanne Shamp also celebrated her win surrounded by her team and friends at her home. She was appointed to fill a vacancy left by former Vice Mayor Summer Stockton in December, so she has a few months on council under her belt. Still, she said she was honored to have the confidence of voters to keep her on council - and to serve the interests of the community.
"You can't love the Comprehensive Plan and not love all the sections of our community," she said.
During the campaign she was labeled as anti-business or development, but she said it's not an accurate assumption - she looks to the comp plan to guide her decisions.
"I deal with that by treating everyone fairly," she said. "That's why you have the comp plan and the LDC (land development code)."
Bobbi Kemp, who was Shamp's campaign manager, was ecstatic that her candidate won.
"She is so well-prepared, knowledgeable and composed," Kemp said. "She really stands for the residents, and I love that."
A total of 5,175 votes were cast in the beach's three precincts. Forrest "Butch" Critser received 849 votes and Ber Stevenson secured 528. The charter amendment on the ballot also passed by 88 percent.