THE LOOP — The Board of Election Commissioners on Tuesday counted the final votes from the April 7 runoff election, and challenger Susan Sadlowski Garza ended up topping incumbent Ald. John Pope (10th) by just 20 votes.
The final tally, to be certified and published by the board on Thursday, saw Garza with 5,825 votes and Pope with 5,805.
As the counting went on over the two weeks since the runoff, most races already had clear winners, including of course the re-election of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but the final absentee and provisional votes trickling in decided the battle between Pope and Garza on the far Southeast Side.
Tuesday afternoon's count at the election board found Garza finishing with a 20-vote cushion after starting the day 33 votes up. Pope claimed 24 late absentees to 13 for Garza to cut her lead to 22, but Pope could make up only two more on provisional ballots.
Garza claimed 50.1 percent of the 11,630 votes cast in the 10th Ward, while Pope had 49.9 percent.
Both sides, however, have already filed suit for a recount, and Pope has retained crack election lawyer Michael Kasper, so the case seems headed to Cook County Circuit Court. According to election board spokesman Jim Allen, the declared victor typically drops the suit, forcing the runner-up to proceed as plaintiff. From that point, the election board follows any instructions given by the assigned judge in handling a recount.
"They've filed a legal challenge, so it's up to them whether they want to pursue that," said Ed Mullen, a civil-rights lawyer working for the Garza campaign. "During the election, the scales are tipped in favor of the incumbent. So if the incumbent can't pull it out, I think they'll have a tough time getting the court to overturn it." Mullen said he was "absolutely ready" to defend Garza's victory.
in the end, Emanuel won re-election comfortably over Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-Chicago), with a 73,609-vote advantage, 56.2 percent to Garcia's 43.8 percent. The first mayoral runoff drove a respectable voter turnout of 41.1 percent for the citywide election.
Incumbents didn't fare as well in the 13 runoffs where sitting aldermen were trying to win re-election, winning seven, but losing six races, with Aldermen Natashia Holmes (7th), Lona Lane (18th), Deborah Graham (29th), Ray Suarez (31st) and Mary O'Connor (41st) all voted out, in addition to Pope.
Aldermen Willie Cochran (20th), Howard Brookins Jr. (21st), Emma Mitts (37th), Michele Smith (43rd), John Arena (45th) and James Cappleman (46th) all won re-election, while Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th) won while shifting wards to the 16th. Smith squeezed by in the tightest race outside the 10th Ward with what turned out to be a 69-vote cushion over challenger Caroline Vickrey.
Aldermen-elect Gregory Mitchell (7th), Derrick Curtis (18th), Chris Taliaferro (29th), Milly Santiago (31st) and Anthony Napolitano (41st) unseated members of the City Council.
In open seats, Brian Hopkins won in the 2nd Ward, Patrick Daley Thompson won the 11th, Raymond Lopez won the 15th, Michael Scott Jr. won the 24th and Gilbert Villegas won the 36th.
The seven members of the Progressive Reform Caucus running for re-election all won, and they could be joined by as many as seven others.
The election board plans to formally certify and publish the results Thursday, but the count is not expected to change in the meantime.
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