SHERWOOD, Ark. – A win for Sherwood’s top city office marks a new memory in what once was a dark day for Mary Jo Heye-Townsell.

Heye-Townsell defeated incumbent Virginia Young in the city’s Mayoral race Tuesday, December 6.

For over 20 years, Dec. 6 served as a reminder of a painful past for Heye-Townsell.

“My heart was shattered,” Heye-Townsell said. “One minute he was laughing and playing, and then he collapsed.”

Heye-Townsell’s son Trey had just turned seven in 2000.  At the time, he was battling issues with his liver after what Heye-Townsell said was improperly prescribed medication.

Heye-Townsell said it was a “series of medical errors” that ultimately led to her son’s unexpected death.

“When you’re a mom and you lose your child, you just want to die,” Heye-Townsell said.

Between the loss and immense grief, Heye-Townsell said she had to find something to keep her going.

“You’ve got one of two ways to go forward in this life, you can live, and you can close off your heart, and that would be the easy way to go,” Heye-Townsell said.  “Or you can live in a way to make your son proud.”

Heye-Townsell took on a coaching job on Trey’s favorite swim team, got a spot on the Parks and Recreation Board and then Sherwood City Council.

She said her latest race would prove to be her hardest yet.

“It fell on the day he passed away,” Heye-Townsell said.

On Dec. 6, 2022, Heye-Townsell watched as her name came out on top. Heye-Townsell was declared Sherwood Mayor-Elect.

“Trey started all of this and for it to come full circle on the day he passed away is amazing,” Heye-Townsell said.

Emotions still pour in 22 years later, but Heye-Townsell said she finds peace in knowing her son sits alongside her in a journey to make a difference.

“Finally, December 6 will have something positive attached to it aside of just pain,” Heye-Townsell said.

Heye-Townsell takes office as Sherwood Mayor January 1, 2023.