Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter won a crowded, unusual mayoral race in Fall River on Tuesday night, setting the stage for his possible departure as the county’s top prosecutor before former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez stands trial for murder next month.
According to unofficial results the city released Tuesday tonight, Sutter won an eight-way race for the corner office, capturing just over 6,000 votes. The current mayor, William A. Flanagan, finished second with just under 4,400 votes.
In a rarely seen political development, city residents voted to recall Flanagan, but Flanagan also ran as one of eight candidates to choose a replacement.
Flanagan, whose critics launched a recall effort amid several controversies, did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday night.
Sutter, a Democrat who previously lost a congressional primary election, said Tuesday in a phone interview that he decided to enter the mayoral race after watching the political situation worsen in his city.
“I just no longer wanted to stay on the sidelines,” Sutter said. “As a concerned resident, I decided to run.”
Sutter said he does not believe his victory will affect the prosecution of Hernandez, who is scheduled to stand trial in Bristol Superior Court on murder and weapons charges in the June 2013 slaying of Odin L. Lloyd, 27, of Dorchester. Jury selection is set to begin Jan. 9.
“I have great confidence in the trial team,” Sutter said, referring to the three senior prosecutors who have been handling the case since Hernandez’s arrest.
The former tight end also faces a double murder indictment in Suffolk County and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
It was not clear Tuesday when Sutter will take office as mayor. Election results will not be certified until Dec. 29 at the earliest, and the city clerk will then have to set an inauguration date.
Meanwhile, a new district attorney will be appointed by the governor. A spokeswoman for Governor Deval Patrick, who leaves office Jan. 8, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Sutter declined to say whether he expected to still be district attorney when opening arguments begin in Hernandez’s trial.
He did say, however, that when pondering a mayoral bid, he considered the possibility that he would no longer be the top prosecutor when the case was resolved.
“I compared . . . really everything that I have put into that case with the challenges facing Fall River and my commitment to the city of Fall River, the place where I chose to settle and call home,” Sutter said. “I decided that the latter was a stronger imperative, and I decided to run.”
Peter Schworm of the Globe staff contributed to this report.