CHICAGO — Ald. Howard Brookins declared victory in the 21st Ward in a race that was closer than anticipated.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Brookins had 7,374 votes, or 50.7 percent of the count. Retired city employee Marvin McNeil had 7,168 votes, or 49.3 percent.
"I'm happy that voters have given me four more years," Brookins said.
Brookins, chairman of the City Council's black caucus, said he hadn't gotten a call from McNeil conceding the race.
A campaign manager for McNeil, however, said they planned to challenge the results at City Hall first thing Wednesday.
Brookins' election party at Time Out Lounge, 8216 S. Vincennes Ave., was sparsely attended for most of the night, but about three dozen people showed up after 10 p.m. Brookins didn't show up until after 10 p.m.
Earlier, his supporters were cautiously optimistic.
"He's done alright around here," said Tracy McGowan, who's uncle works at Brookins Funeral Home. "I'm sure he's going to win."
In February, with six challengers, Brookins, whose chief of staff pleaded guilty to bribing an undercover informant last December, captured 41 percent of the vote, 9 percent shy of the 50 percent required to keep his seat. McNeil came in second, with 14 percent.
McNeil, a former zoning code inspector for the city, had vowed to repeal the red-light camera ordinances and to push for a law to expunge all juvenile arrests that don’t result in the suspect being charged, provided that it’s a first-time offense. According to his website, the Illinois State University grad and married father of five planned to create West Chatham’s first chamber of commerce.
Brookins’ support of charter schools may have caused him to fall out of favor with the Chicago Teachers Union, and bringing Wal-Mart to 83rd Street didn’t win him any friends in labor unions. While Brookins voted against the parking meter deal, he’s aligned himself with City Hall on most issues, including school closings and speed cameras.
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