Savannah voters ended a two-way contest for the city's mayor's office by choosing Edna Jackson to lead the coastal city.
The retired university administrator defeated attorney Jeff Felser with 56% of the vote.
Speaking to about 200 supporters at a downtown hotel, a victorious Jackson thanked a long list of people who helped her campaign.
When someone grumbled that her thank-you list was taking too long, she said "okay" and then shouted, "Well, y'all I AM going to be the mayor!" followed by rousing applause.
Jackson stood by her family during her speech but saved her kindest words for outgoing mayor Otis Johnson.
Jackson kept the mayor's support for her low-profile as he was pilloried by Jackson's opponents during the campaign.
"Thank you, thank you," Jackson told Johnson. "I honor you. Thank you very much," followed by polite applause.
Jackson also had the support of the chamber of commerce, major unions and the city's daily newspaper.
At the other end of town, Felser supporters meeting at a Southside restaurant were boosted by early numbers that showed a close race, despite Jackson's front-runner status.
Their optimism ended when the final precincts came in.
"I thank God and my parents' blessed memory," Felser told them. "I hope that I have brought them honor and dignity. I thank the people for speaking up against the establishment and the status quo."
Felser asked his supporters to hold the new mayor accountable.
Once Jackson and eight other members of city council are sworn in in January, one of their first items of business will be reviewing one of the outgoing mayor's most controversial moves -- supporting a new city manager.
The council also will look to deepen Savannah's port and keep liquefied natural gas from being trucked on city streets.