“TV is nothing compared to running for office," he told PEOPLE
Chris Lambton may not have captured Ali Fedotowsky’s heart on The Bachelorette back in 2010. But fast-forward nearly a decade and he overwhelmingly won the support of the voters of his hometown, Dennis, Massachusetts — a seaside community on Cape Cod where, in a landslide victory on Tuesday, he earned a seat on the town’s board of selectmen.
In New England, selectmen are essentially the town’s chief administrators and work together as a group to make decisions.
Lambton, 42, lives in Dennis with wife Peyton Lambton (a season 10 contestant on The Bachelor) and their two young children. He was the top vote-getter in a four-way race for two three-year seats on the board, which has five members.
“I’m absolutely blown away,” he told PEOPLE Tuesday night from the local Chapin’s Bayside restaurant where he was celebrating his victory with more than 100 family members, friends and supporters.
“TV is nothing compared to running for office,” he said. “I mean, you’re putting yourself and your family out there and even though people say, ‘Chris, I’m voting for you,’ you never know what they’re going to do behind the curtain. I admit that I was very nervous.”
It turns out that Chris, who works with his family’s landscaping business and is a host on HGTV and DIY Network’s Yard Crashers and Lawn and Order, had no need to worry.
Dennis Town Clerk Terri Bunce tells PEOPLE that Chris received 2,318 votes in the election — more than double the number received by his closest competitor, an incumbent.
Of the town’s 11,795 registered voters, 3,182 (or nearly 27 percent) cast ballots in Tuesday’s race.
Bunce says that on average 12 percent to 15 percent of registered voters participate in the annual election. She largely attributed the higher turnout this year to Chris.
“He campaigned heavily. He held gatherings, put out signs, sent postcards … he really did put himself out there,” she says. “He’s also a very well-liked and well-respected person in the community.”
Of his extensive campaigning, Chris told PEOPLE Tuesday, “If you’re going to do anything, then you need to do it all the way.”
“Regardless of what the results were, I wanted to say I had no regrets, that I did the best I could,” he said.
While there wasn’t one hot-button issue that prompted him to run, Chris said schools, housing and wastewater were all important matters that need to be addressed in Dennis — and sooner rather than later.
“The decisions made in the next few years are going to really impact the next decades in our town,” he said.
“I have two children and I am going to be raising them in this town,” he said. “They’re going to be going to public schools here and swimming at the beaches and in the riverways. … I want to make sure they get the best of this town and what better way than to be a part of the decision-making process.”
He continued: “I have a lot of friends who I went to high school with and they are being priced out of the [housing] market. I want to make sure they can afford to live here.”
The Bachelorette alum said he isn’t concerned about juggling too many responsibilities — his landscaping business, TV gigs, political obligations and fatherhood — thanks mostly to his “amazing” wife.
“[Peyton] was my biggest fan through all of this. She was out there today in 40-degree weather holding a sign, waving … and you know she’s a Southern girl, so she does not like cold weather,” he said. “Not only is she a great wife and mom, but she’s a great political campaign companion as well.”
The couple’s 2 ½-year-old daughter, Lyla James, has also been showing her support, Chris said. Lyla loves driving around town with her dad and saying “daddy sign, daddy sign” every time she sees one of his campaign lawn signs.
Five-month-old son Hayes Jennings, meanwhile, is growing bigger every day and has been sleeping through the night since he was 2 months old, Chris said.
“This is the time to get involved. The meetings are at night and my kids go to bed at 7:30,” he said. “They don’t have baseball games, softball games … so I’m not missing those things.”
Chris said he has “no idea” if he has further political aspirations beyond being a selectman.
“Right now I’m just so excited to represent my town,” he said. “I’m just letting it all sink in, and I’m ready to get to work.”