SOUTH SHORE — Gregory Mitchell has defeated incumbent Ald. Natashia Holmes to win the 7th Ward seat.
"It feels good, it was a long road," Mitchell said. "We hit it hard, stuck to grassroots and knocked on doors. I was nervous as hell this morning. You're always thinking of what you could have done differently."
With 100 percent of the vote counted, Mitchell had 57 percent of the vote to Holmes' 43 percent.
The atmosphere in Mitchell's campaign office at 2342 E. 75th St. was exuberant with nearly every one of the 22 campaign workers claiming a lifelong friendship with Mitchell and charging him for a congratulatory hug.
The campaign was clearly expecting a longer night and the takeout food sat untouched still under wraps when the calls starting coming in that Mitchell had topped Holmes, whose own campaign party was just a block away at the Quarry, 2423 E. 75th St.
At 7:45 p.m., Holmes had still not arrived and a quiet crowd of about 20 watched results on a big-screen television, but it was quickly becoming clear that the vote totals were turning against the incumbent.
Holmes has held the seat since Sandi Jackson stepped down in 2013 and asked voters to let her show them what she can do with a full term in office.
She was seen as weak enough in the Feb. 24 election that 14 candidates vied to unseat her, and she captured 25 percent of the vote to Mitchell’s 20 percent.
Mitchell, a former financial analyst and help desk manager, promised he could bring new levels of customer service and efficiency to the ward office.
In a ward where the mayoral race did not light up voters, local issues of bringing in new development and increased safety dominated the campaign.
Both candidates promised a clean race after the leadup to the Feb. 24 vote was marred by the eight candidates who remained on the ballot through waves of challenges lobbing accusations of trickery and dirty tactics at the other campaigns.
The runoff campaign was relatively mild, even after former candidate Keiana Barrett moderated a forum that many believed would turn against Holmes. During the forum, candidates stuck to the issues — mostly — Mitchell snarled at Holmes after she claimed his house in Jeffery Manor, just steps from his childhood home, was not in the ward.
Mitchell banked on a ground campaign and that is mostly what he got.
Chicago Forward, the deep-pocketed independent expenditure committee backing Mayor Rahm Emanuel, did not step in with financial support of Holmes like it did in the lead-up to Feb. 24.
Holmes’ campaign benefited from $8,425 from Chicago Forward on March 31. Holmes benefited from $36,677 in spending on her behalf by Chicago Forward in the first part of the race.
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