BELMONT CRAGIN — Absentee ballots counted in the 31st Ward have narrowed the gap between challenger Milagros "Milly" Santiago and Ald. Regner "Ray" Suarez.
Between Thursday and Friday, Suarez picked up 95 votes, while Santiago received 51.
That brings the total to 4,021 for Suarez, who still trails by 87 votes to Santiago, with 4,203 votes.
Following Tuesday's runoff election, Santiago claimed victory with 4,152 votes, 131 more than Suarez received. Suarez said he would not concede the race until all ballots were counted.
The 8,319 ballots counted through Friday top the 5,785 total ballots cast in the 31st Ward during the Feb. 24 general election. Turnout as of Friday stood at 40.7 percent.
The Board of Elections must wait two weeks for all absentee ballots to arrive by mail, meaning official results won't be announced until April 23.
Suarez, a Vietnam War veteran, was first elected to lead the Northwest Side ward in 1991. The 31st Ward includes parts of Hermosa, Belmont Cragin, Portage Park and Logan Square.
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