Write-in candidate Emil Maslanka won Tuesday's election for village president of Coal Valley, Illinois, with nearly 65 percent of the vote.
Maslanka received 461 votes, while his opponent, Rick Lasek, won 246 votes. Maslanka had to wait until Wednesday morning to learn of his victory, because of the extra time required to count write-in names on the ballots.
"We tried to make it as easy as possible for people to remember my name, and I know if's not a very easy name to remember," said Maslanka.
To do that, supporters launched a grassroots campaign that included door-knocking, flyers, and even tear-off cards for voters to take with them to the polls.
"I believe that a lot of people were surprised at the effort, especially the significant amount of effort that was put forth for the write-in candidacy," said Maslanka.
Tuesday's election marked the first time in nearly two decades that the race for president, or mayor, of Coal Valley was contested.
"The primary purpose for running was to give the residents a choice. For the last 19 years, they had a mayor that was basically running unopposed, and he decided to retire. Therefore, it was the first opportunity for people within Coal Valley to really have a choice," Maslanka said.
However, after missing the December caucus and the petition deadline while helping a sick family member in Arizona, a write-in campaign became Maslanka's only option. After an extended wait for the election results, Wednesday morning was a sigh of relief.
"I was thinking that I made an impact in the community. I think there was a tremendous amount of support for me, and I feel really honored," said Maslanka.