Payson voters have chosen the town's first woman mayor.
In a run off election May 18, Barbara Brewer defeated former town councilor Jim Chase by a 297-vote margin.
Brewer, now the vice mayor, received 2,206 votes or 53.6 percent of those cast. Chase received 1,909 votes or 46.4 percent. The close race was a mild surprise in that Brewer outpolled Chase 1,967 to 1,045 in the March 9 primary election.
Because neither candidate received a clear majority of the votes in the primary, the run off election was needed.
In the primary, current mayor Ken Murphy and Diana Sexton were eliminated from the race. Murphy received 624 votes and Sexton had 529.
The mayor-elect says gender will not play a big role in her position as leader of town government.
"I don't think it is going to make that big of difference," she said. "I think getting the job done is what's most important."
The new mayor then hedged a bit saying a woman might be the efficient and empathetic leader town government needs.
"It (her election) shows me that the community wants strength, but they want compassion as well," she said.
"Strong women can be very effective in the community and I'm happy the voters have given me the opportunity."
Brewer also called her election a sign voters were anxious to modify the way town government has been conducted.
"This is a very progressive step for the town," she said. "This is a new beginning."
Brewer is quick to acknowledge that the key to any success she might enjoy could be in developing cohesiveness on the council and among the townspeople.
"I hope to be able to bring everyone together and find a common ground," she said. "I understand there are differences out there, but I think there are also greater solutions when we are working together."
Payson's first mayor, Ted Pettet, agrees teamwork on the council is invaluable.
"When I think back (to 1973-1976 when he was mayor) we got a lot accomplished on very little money because we were all pulling in the same direction," he said. "The way I see (town government), people have been picking sides and looking out for special interests. The council's job will be to work together to run the community."
Former mayor, Craig Swartwood, is confident Brewer has the ability to lead the council. "Her ego is such that she is a true team player," he said. "She will be able to build a team on the council because of her ability to compromise."
In the minutes after learning she had been elected, Brewer expressed her gratitude to Chase for sticking to the issues of the campaign.
"I thank Jim for running a nice, clean campaign," she said. "The people of Payson seemed to be happy with us that we maintained a clean and aboveboard campaign."
Brewer was also grateful to those who were a part of her election team. "I'd like to say thank you to all those who supported me and worked with me throughout my campaign," she said. "Also a special thank-you to my staff at Swiss Beauty Connection for being so patient with me during all this."
Brewer and newly elected councilors Tim Fruth, George Barriger and John Wilson will be sworn in June 10.