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43rd Ward Too Close to Call, Ald. Michele Smith Leads by 98 Votes

By Paul Biasco | April 8, 2015 5:24am | Updated on April 8, 2015 8:52am
 Michele Smith gives a speach late Tuesday thanking supporters at the Red Lion Pub.
Michele Smith gives a speach late Tuesday thanking supporters at the Red Lion Pub.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

LINCOLN PARK — The hard-fought race to lead the 43rd Ward was left without a winner Tuesday night, but it appears Ald. Michele Smith might again squeak by.

With about 96 percent of the precincts reporting, Smith was leading with 50.4 percent compared to Caroline Vickrey with 49.6 percent.

That left two remaining precincts whose votes were not in as of late Tuesday as well as absentee ballots that will be counted in the coming weeks.

The candidates split the two remaining precincts during the general election in February.


"Of course we are going to wait for all of that to happen, but I am telling you I am confident that I am going to be representing you for the next four years," Smith told her supporters late Tuesday night at the Red Lion pub.

 Caroline Vickrey
Caroline Vickrey
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At the end of the night, 12,910 ballots had been counted with Smith retaining a 98-vote lead. The turnout was significantly larger than the February election, which totaled 10,306 votes cast.

DNAinfo/Tanveer Ali

Smith, a first-term alderman, beat her 2011 opponent, Tim Egan, in a runoff by 250 votes.

Vickrey, a political newcomer, addressed her supporters at Fairways, 1141 W. Armitage Ave. In an interview she said "it's not going to be over tonight."

She said she is confident absentee votes yet to be counted will trend toward her campaign. Running against an incumbent "we feel like it's a victory already."

The two remaining precincts that are uncounted are the 6th and 41st.

Paul Biasco says it could be some time before we know the winner:

Vickrey beat Smith in the 6th during the general election in February 46 percent to 30 percent with the remaining votes going to former candidates.

In the 41st, which is a larger precinct, Smith won 46 percent of the vote compared to Vickrey's 38 percent.

"We've got a lot of opinions in this ward," Smith said late Tuesday. "We are delighted by the great contest, but we are winning. We are going to win this race."

The runoff election pits Smith against Vickrey in a race that has focused on development in the ward and turned nasty at points over the past six weeks. Smith and Vickrey were separated by 6 percentage points in the February election that sent the two to the runoff.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who escaped his own runoff Tuesday, was a major factor in the 43rd Ward race, supporting Smith financially and politically. 

The mayor produced a robo-call urging residents to vote for Smith, and a campaign committee affiliated with him, Chicago Forward, send numerous mailers for Smith.

Smith raised more than four times what Vickrey did during the runoff.

Smith, a first-term alderman, ran on a platform of moving business forward in the ward and touted her partnership with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and her work on solving the city's pension crisis.

Vickrey, a former attorney who served on the boards of a number of neighborhood groups, campaigned on improving transparency in ward and the development process.

This is Smith's third runoff in the past three elections.

In addition to narrowly defeating Tim Egan in 2011, she was defeated by Vi Daley in 2007.

Vickrey's campaign was launched in reaction to a number of development projects in the neighborhood and the public process that lead to their approvals.

The 6-acre Children's Memorial Hospital redevelopment at the corner of Fullerton, Halsted and Lincoln was the key issue in the race.

Smith argued that she drove a hard bargain with the developer, McCaffery Interests, before coming to a compromise on the mixed-use development.

Vickrey argued that the process was flawed, and neighborhood groups nearest the site were left out to dry.

The new alderman will have two major development projects on her hands that were proposed within the past year but have sat idle during the election process.

The first is a 225-unit apartment building that was proposed for Lincoln Avenue in January 2014.

The second is a 17-story condominium project that is slated to replace the Market Place Foodstore if approved.

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