The hard-fought contest to choose a new city councillor in District 3 is over. While the eight-month-long race was a generally positive exercise in civic discourse, there is one thing that all sides agree on: No one is sorry to see this election cycle end.

The long contest divided families, neighbors, spouses, and friends— but certainly not in a permanent fashion. Dorchester is the city’s biggest neighborhood, but those of us who call it home know that it’s really more like a small town. And, in time — faster than some might think from today’s vantage point — the superficial wounds of a tough campaign season will be soothed by holiday parties and strolls, basketball games, and other pursuits. Life goes on.

Opponents who squared off on one or the other side of the Baker-O’Toole divide will find themselves on the same team in some future election, like it or not. Indeed, there was at least one person at the Baker victory party at Florian Hall on Tuesday who had carpooled there with relatives who were across the street at the O’Toole camp’s gathering at the McKeon Post. Many of the partisans from each camp shared a toast, or at least a handshake, later in the evening at another victory party, this one for Ayanna Pressley.

And so it was even before the results came in on Tuesday. At the polls, more often than not, friendly banter was heard among the campaign workers, all of whom benefited from an unseasonably warm and sunny election day. Conversations were mostly warm, if tense, as the outcome in this contest was far from certain down to the final clock ticks before 8 p.m. Most wore the look of relief that it was almost over.

The sad fact of an intimate, close-quarters local race like this one is that — ultimately— people have to choose sides. Someone has to lose. And it’s never a pleasant moment for the losing side.

Frank Baker and John O’Toole deserve our admiration for putting themselves and their families out there for consideration, scrutiny, and the judgment that results. We believe that these two men are decent and honorable and have the best interests of the community at heart. Both will play important roles as leaders going forward.

We are heartened by the tone of Frank Baker’s victory speech and his comments after it. He immediately sought to re-assure people who did not vote for him that he would seek out their counsel and support. He made a pledge to make sure that no one “would be hurt because of politics.” It’s an ideal that we hope and believe Baker will strive for in the days ahead.

For everyone else involved, it’s a time to take a welcome break from standouts, robocalls, and lit drops. It’s time to return to the everyday routine of life in a neighborhood we all love.

– Bill Forry

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