Just six votes stand in the way of a North Side alderman’s fight to hold her City Council seat.
Election night may be over, but candidates in five wards are still holding their breath, awaiting absentee ballots before declaring victory – or conceding defeat.
Out of 18 aldermanic runoff races, five were too close to callTuesdaynight: the 10th, 16th, 21st, 31st and 43rd wards.
Election results were updatedWednesday evening in the races in which a few precincts hadn’t been tabulated. But it won’t be until April 21before all absentee ballots are counted.
The closest race now hinges on just six votes.
In the 43rd Ward, attorney Caroline Vickrey had been trailing incumbent Ald. Michele Smith by just 98 votes earlierWednesday, but with all precincts counted, Vickrey took the lead with 6,791 over Smith’s 6,785.
A Vickrey spokeswoman said the campaign is awaiting the absentee and provisional ballots before declaring victory or conceding.
In a statement, Smith’s campaign officials said they believe she’ll retain her seat with the hundreds of ballots yet to come.
“We are looking forward to all of the vote by mail ballots being counted and are confident of our victory,” the campaign said in a statement.
Single-digit leads aren’t unheard of in runoff races, said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Cook County Board of Election Commissioners.
In 1987, Juan Soliz defeated Ambrosio Medrano by just three votes in a runoff election.
In other close races with all precincts reporting, Susan Sadlowski Garza took a bigger lead against incumbent Ald. John Pope. Earlier she was up by just seven votes. Garza now leads Pope by 89 votes and has declared victory. Her campaign painted the win as a victory over a “corrupt machine” incumbent.
“Nobody said it would be easy, but, in hearing the voices of people who have been ignored for so long, we together were able to upset the status quo and chart a new path for the forgotten 10th Ward,” Garza said in a statementWednesday.
But Pope’s campaign aides say the race is far from over.
“We had a historic early vote number citywide, especially in the 10thWard, and on Election Day, people stood in the rain to cast their vote. Sue Garza is jumping the gun here, declaring victory without letting the people’s voice actually be counted and that’s irresponsible,” Pope campaign manager JakeBreymaier said
In the 16th Ward, which covers South and Southwest Side neighborhoods, Ald. Toni Foulkes is in the lead by just 112 votes with 3,800 votes or 50.75 percent of the vote, while challenger Stephanie Coleman has 3,688 votes or 49.25 percent.
Coleman, daughter of retired Ald. Shirley Coleman, says she won’t concede until all votes are counted: “We are still in this thang. We are still in this race,” Coleman told her supporters on Wednesday.
Foulkes’ campaign manager Breanna Champion said the campaign is confident the alderman will keep the lead.
“The chances of our opponent actually coming out with a victory after all is counted is just totally low. So we definitely are going to wait until all ballots are counted, but we’re definitely confident that we’ll come up with the victory,” Champion said.
In the South Side’s 21st Ward, all precincts have been counted, and just 206 votes separate Ald. Howard Brookins Jr., with 7,374 votes, and his challenger Marvin McNeil, with 7,168 votes.
McNeil says he plans to file for a recount and has hired an election attorney.
“It’s real close. We’re looking at everything. We’re still looking at the numbers,” McNeil said.
And in the North Side’s 31st Ward, where Milagros “Milly” Santiago already claimed victory before supporters on election night, Ald. Ray Suarez’s campaign officials say they’ll also request a recount.
With all precincts reporting, Santiago is up by 131 votes with 4,152 votes to Suarez’s 4,021.
“I know the other side wants to claim victory, but Ray doesn’t want to concede yet. He wants to make sure everything is looked at,” Suarez’s campaign manager Mark Bretz said Wednesday.