ELKHART — Rod Roberson defeated Ashley Boling Molyneaux in the Democratic primary for Elkhart mayor in a race for the open seat.
The former city councilman received about 57 percent with 1,776 votes, while Boling Molyneaux received about 42 percent with 1,316 votes.
Roberson and a crowd of supporters and Democratic candidates celebrated at his campaign headquarters in downtown Elkhart on Lexington Avenue. Results came in around 9 p.m., but early numbers had Roberson in the lead for about two hours before then.
That led many supporters to call the win early, some calling Roberson mayor long before 9 p.m. and even longer before the November election.
"It's just a score until the game is over," Roberson said around 8:30 p.m. "I don't want to know the score, I want to know the game."
When the result finally came in, the crowd erupted in deafening screams before letting the winner of the mayoral primary give his victory speech.
"You know that building Elkhart together wasn't just a theme. It was about all of you in this room. It was about everyone that took the time to stop and say 'Do you know Rod Roberson?' And it's about everyone that said, after they said 'No I do not,' you said 'Let me tell you about him,'" Roberson said.
He said the election was not about him or any one person, but about everyone becoming a part of making Elkhart a better place.
He also took time to praise Boling Molyneaux for her campaign.
"Ashley ran hard. And it takes the kind of grit that she showed," Roberson said.
Roberson will face Republican and former Mayor Dave Miller in the Nov. 5 election. If Roberson wins, he will become Elkhart's first African-American mayor.
"This was never about electing the first African-American mayor," he said. "It's always, and should always, be about electing the very best mayor the city could ever have."
Boling Molyneaux conceded the race around the same time that Roberson gave his speech.
"I am humbled by your support, by the hundreds of volunteers hours poured into this campaign, by your belief that Elkhart would benefit from our bolder vision. To all of you — our loyal volunteers, donors, and supporters — thank you for engaging. It isn’t easy to care about things because you risk being disappointed. Today we are disappointed, but tomorrow we will wake up, proclaim it to be a new day, and move on to the next task to make our community better," she said in a statement.
Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter @ReadRasmus