Debbie Jannison Amaroso awoke this morning, logged onto Facebook at 8:20 a.m. and wrote this as her status: "OMG......."
Dark Horse Debbie emerged out of nowhere last night, proving every pollster and pundit wrong, handily beating Jamie Caicco and a couple of noncontenders to become the Sault's first-ever female mayor.
When asked what her first order of business will be, she replied, "You mean after I breathe?" as media and well-wishers pressed in to congratulate the surprise winner upon her arrival at City Council chambers shortly before 9:30 p.m.
"The first thing will be to develop protocol with the MP and the MPP's offices," Amaroso said. "Then, with some new faces around council, we're certainly going to want to sit down and develop our mutual vision."
Amaroso ran on a platform of providing a balanced approach to community development.
She promised to deliver strong, energetic leadership.
Her slogan was "Your city, your say."
And last night, Amaroso said she plans to continue that open dialogue with Saultites through whatever vehicles she can find: from community cafes to Facebook - any place communication can happen.
Amaroso didn't really believe she'd won until nearly all the polls had been counted because her closest runner-up and friend James Caicco had run a good campaign.
"I really didn't breathe until 97 percent of the votes were in," she said. "I kept telling them (the people at her campaign headquarters) that when 100 percent of the polls are in, then we'll talk."
But the result was clear by the time Amaroso arrived at the Civic Centre.
She didn't even get fully into the council chambers when she was mobbed by well-wishers and greeted with a standing ovation from newly elected and re-elected councillors along with unsuccessful candidates and family members who were gathered to watch the results come in.
During a brief lull in media interviews and congratulatory hugs for Amaroso, Sault MPP David Orazietti's assistant Carmen Biasucci came to her with his mobile phone.
"It's Dave," he said as he passed her the phone. "He wants to congratulate you."
From the first poll that reported last night, Amaroso led the Sault Ste. Marie mayoral race.
She led in every ward.
Almost consistently throughout the count, the gap widened in her favour.
Caicco went to her campaign headquarters to congratulate her before she came to the City Council chambers.
Inside the chambers, Amaroso received many congratulatory hugs and warm handshakes, including an emotional hug from fellow mayoral candidate Julie Hryniewicz.
"Right from the first day you said you wanted to be mayor and now you are," Hryniewicz said with a smile. "I'm so happy for you."
Mayoral candidate Ron Schinners also came to council chambers to congratulate Amaroso, then vowed in a media interview to be City Council's watchdog.
City Clerk Malcolm White must now certify the results as public, tentatively this Thursday.
The new mayor and council will be inaugurated at the next meeting of City Council on December 6.