ATHOL - Early afternoon Tuesday, Evelyn Wood raised her right hand and recited an oath of office in the Thurman Town Hall while her 18-month-old baby Mable watched and chattered in the arms of her grandfather, Steven Wood.
Mable's big sister, five-year-old Catherine broke into a smile as Evelyn's husband Andrew Hall and mother-in-law Diane Wood gave her hugs.
Evelyn Wood, 33, just made history.
She was sworn in as Thurman's youngest Supervisor ever, and only the second female ever to hold the post.
When Wood first announced her candidacy in July, some of the Supervisors on the all-male Warren County Board of Supervisors spoke of whispers that she'd get "eaten alive" by politics either at the town level or by the prevailing political forces in the county.
Political observers predicted that by jumping into the race early and running only on an independent label, the robust Republican majority would crush her at the polls as they voted the straight G.O.P. lineup.
Wood, however prevailed. First, by attending virtually all county government meetings since July, she learned about the myriad, complex issues facing the county.
Then in town politics, she successfully skirted the land-mines of contentious local issues with a positive but assertive middle-of-the-road approach. She put to use the knowledge she'd gained in years of attending so many town board meetings since she was in high school.
Finally, she ran a diplomatic, energetic campaign against the well-known, well-respected Thomas "Tuck" Birdsall, the endorsed Republican candidate who's been a fixture on the local governmental scene for decades.
When the machine votes were tallied on Election Day, she received 235 votes to Birdsall's 214. Ten hours less than a week later, the absentee votes were counted, giving her 17 votes to Birdsall's 24, and the county Board of Commissioners declared her winner and certified the vote.
The improbable had happened, and Town Clerk Cynthia Hyde swore her into office.
After congratulations from her family, Wood walked upstairs in the Town Hall and looked over her office, where for decades, one middle-aged man after another had commanded the functions of the town.
Wood said she'd get started working on town business Wednesday, meeting with Interim Town Supervisor Al Vasak, the beefy former local football coach, to get briefed on pending governmental business matters -- the subtler items that she hadn't yet heard about.
Next, she'll be meeting with the Town Bookkeeper Lester Losaw, to try to get a handle on not only the 2010 town budget due in a matter of days, but a grip on the town accounts that are in limbo due to accounting irregularities and oversights occurring two-and-a-half administrations ago in 2008 and earlier and have persisted to this day. Folks have yet to figure out how several years ago, more than $800,000 appeared in a forgotten town bank account.
Within eight days, she'll have to figure out, along with the four other town board members, how much money to appropriate to the town's independent ambulance squad, which is seeking to restore its Advanced Life Support capabilities.
The decision won't be an easy one.
A few weeks ago, squad officials asked for $172,000 for 2001 to re-establish ALS, then when challenged, backed down to a figure half that much, then reduced the figure to $55,000 when citizens objected.
Only a year ago, the squad was receiving $35,000 or so from the town and they had ALS certification, before the town was embroiled in a controversy over the squad's future. This and other issues prompted the former supervisor and a board member to resign.
In county government, she'll be deciding on the future of the county tourist railroad - a deadline for a contract with a new rail operator is now looming - and the issues have sparked polarized controversy. Just ask those citizens who wonder how Thurman's quarter-million-dollar passenger platform is going to justify its cost.
Also, the future of regional waste disposal and recycling is hanging in the balance as the DEC-mandated solid waste management plan is due by Dec. 31.
"I've got quite a lot to accomplish before Dec. 31," she said. "I'm ready to get to work."