By Matt Zencey
As the room full of Mayor Linda Thompson s volunteers and supporters awaited voting results on election night at the National Civil War Museum, the mood was hopeful but subdued.
I think we re going to have our mayor back four more years, said Rafiyqa Mohammad, a thin, graying woman with a long set of braids tied into a ponytail under her ball cap.
Without a way to display vote totals for viewing, the audience had to rely on periodic announcements or their own smart phones to stay up to date. A DJ had the music going loud and several times exhorted the crowd to make some noise for their mayor.
His pleas met with varying degrees of enthusiasm a hearty burst of cheers then quieter responses, before folks turned back to their conversation and plates of food from the buffet. A couple of times,Chanel, the DJ coaxed a handful of dancers onto the floor but aside from the music, this was definitely a low-key affair.
It was an almost entirely African-American crowd, save for a handful of volunteers and campaign consultants. By contrast, Eric Papenfuse s gathering, at his Midtown Scholar bookstore, was a model of integration, with more than a dozen African-Americans milling around earlier in the evening.
The lack of diversity at Mayor Thompson s get-together might have foreshadowed the night s results.
At 10:23 a roar went up as the crowd at the top of the stairs saw the mayor come in. Wearing her trademark pearls and a big smile,Chanel Outlet Online, she made her way up among a scrum of cameras and supporters.
The crowd couldn t hear her first words not much amplification coming from the microphone in front of her so she started over as the crowd hushed.
Hi everybody, she said in a voice strained by the day s campaigning.
She told the crowd she trailed by about 150 votes. I thank all the volunteers who worked so hard It s an honor to have been in this race. It s an honor to have been mayor in this city.
That set off murmurs, as the crowd anticipated what was coming.
The voters have spoken. They are looking for change. I accept that humbly.
She urged her supporters to honor our democracy, honor the people s will and work with those who would be in charge after she leaves office.
I go out with my head held high, she said to a big cheer, explaining that she worked to see that the people s needs are met.
Make sure you stay focused on your issues, stay involved with your community, stay involved with your elected officials, she urged.
When she said God bless all of you,Chanel Outlet, Thompson drew the biggest cheer of the night, and scattered shouts of We love you.
It was a performance of grace and class. Had she been able to conduct her entire term like that, she might be headed to the ballot in the fall.
Some of her supporters weren t nearly as ready to let go and move on.
Unbelievable, muttered Paula Braxton,Chanel Bags, as Thompson started to collect hugs from well-wishers.
I feel money bought it, said Peggy Mason, who d been driving the mayor earlier on election day.
Later Braxton said She [Thompson] worked so hard to straighten things out. Directing her ire at voters, she said They threw her under the bus. It s a sad night. A very sad, sad night.
Deb Jackson struggled between taking the high road and a darker view of the night s outcome. A deeply religious woman, she said, I continue to support and pray for Harrisburg and the leadership. We ve got to come together and act as adults. It s going to be alright. But she also wondered what God meant by having Thompson lose and she suggested evil was afoot. People wanted change. They d better watch out.
Harrisburg s first African-American mayor had, ironically enough, just made her concession speech at a museum commemorating the war that freed African-Americans from bondage. Not quite 150 years after that war, these three women had trouble accepting that their candidate had been judged on the content of her character.
That perception surely is not limited to the three women with whom I spoke Tuesday night and overcoming it will pose a formidable challenge to whichever white candidate wins the mayor s race in November.
Matt Zencey is Deputy Opinions Editor of Pennlive and The Patriot-News.