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Just a Friendly Wager: Belmont Men Remain Friends Despite Political Differences

Photo by Jennifer Compston-Strough Bob Mills, a resident of Belmont and a supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, stands on the porch of his home above a “Biden President 2020” banner after losing a bet to his neighbor, Koel Davia, about the outcome of the election. Mills and Davia are both members of the Belmont Volunteer Fire Department, and they remain friends despite their political differences.

A good-natured bet between neighbors is demonstrating that Americans who disagree about politics can still be friends.

Bob Mills, a registered Democrat but also an ardent supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, is now flying a “Biden President 2020” flag on the front of his home. He is doing so after making a wager against his neighbor, Koel Davia, with Mills asserting that Trump would win the 2020 election. The terms of their contest called for the loser to fly the flag of the opposing candidate’s campaign for one week after Inauguration Day.

Davia, who lives directly across the street from Mills in the village of Belmont, said it all started after he acquired a Biden banner to fly from the flagpole on his property. He said a day or so later, Mills had posted about eight yard signs in support of Trump.

“I thought, ‘I guess I’ve got to order more Biden flags,’ and kind of doubled down, and it just kind of went from there,” Davia said.

Soon their properties on opposite sides of Brown Street were covered in signs, banners and images touting their differing views.

Davia said the bet was Mills’ idea, but that didn’t mean he was ready to surrender when election results were announced.

“He wouldn’t submit until noon on the 20th (of January) when they were actually sworn in,” Davia said. “It’s finally paying off now this week.”

But Mills isn’t simply flying a Biden flag. He said that with the bet, as with many other things, the devil was in the details.

“We agreed the loser would fly the opponent’s flag for seven days, but we didn’t say how,” Mills said with a twinkle in his eye.

So while his front-porch display includes a large Biden banner, it also features the American flag, a “Trump -2020- Keep America Great” banner and an enormous portrait of Trump alongside a sign that states, “It Was RIGGED!!! ‘Show Me the Ballots.'”

“It’s not exactly what I had in mind, but he is flying the Biden flag,” Davia said.

Mills said he believes the states where election tallies were questioned by the Trump campaign should have been more transparent after the election.

“If I was the winner, I would demand they show transparency so it shows the election was legitimate,” he added.

Mills said he initially voted for Trump in 2016 because Trump was “an outsider” with no loyalty to anyone in the U.S. House or Senate — and because he did not support then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Mills believes Trump accomplished a lot for the nation while in office due to his background as a businessman. Mills also credited Trump for launching Operation Warp Speed to help accelerate production of vaccines to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On the other hand, Mills didn’t like a lot of the rhetoric Trump was famous for and said he would have preferred that Trump display a bit more couth.

Davia said he hopes for “a return somewhat to normalcy … just more decency” under the new Biden administration. And as a member of the Union Local Board of Education, Davia said he is interested in education policy and health care.

“The past secretary of education was a disaster in my view, so I’m excited about that,” Davia said. And when it comes to health care, “I’d really like to see some changes made in the system. I think Biden and the Democrats have a better plan — well, I never really did get to hear what Trump’s plan was.”

In addition to being neighbors, Mills and Davia are colleagues. Both are members of the Belmont Volunteer Fire Department, with Mills serving as chief and Davia filling the roles of firefighter and EMT.

“I appreciate it — it was good-natured fun,” Davia said of his bet against Mills. “He’s a good man, a good neighbor and a great friend. We’re still friends today even though we have different opinions about politics.

“It’s OK to have different opinions and not think less of the other person because they have a different opinion than you,” he continued. “I think if more people in this country felt that way, we’d all be a lot better off.”

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