Ald. Michele Smith wins 43rd Ward seat, as challenger Caroline Vickrey concedes

SHARE Ald. Michele Smith wins 43rd Ward seat, as challenger Caroline Vickrey concedes
SHARE Ald. Michele Smith wins 43rd Ward seat, as challenger Caroline Vickrey concedes

One week after the polls closed, the 43rd Ward aldermanic race is finally over.

Attorney Caroline Vickrey, who fought a tough battle to become the North Side ward’s new alderman, conceded on Tuesday to incumbent Ald. Michele Smith.

“We could drag this out for another week, demand a recount and file a formal challenge — and many of you have urged me to do so — but I do not believe this is in the best interest of our ward,” Vickrey said in an email to supporters. “For this reason, I am today ending my campaign for alderman of the 43rd Ward.”

Smith responded by thanking her supporters — and her opponent “for her passion and hard work.”

After about 800 absentee ballots were counted on Saturday, Vickrey remained behind by 86 votes. She had briefly taken the lead by 69 after the first day of absentee ballot counting last week.

Since Smith was elected in 2011, she has faced two controversial decisions: backing a $20 million annex to Lincoln Elementary School and a massive redevelopment deal at the site of the old Children’s Memorial Hospital site.

A suit seeking to block the hospital development site was dismissed last year. Another suit, filed by community members, sought to challenge zoning approvals needs for the school addition and was dismissed in early March.

Vickrey had capitalized on neighborhood controversy over the Smith-backed redevelopment plans for the former Children’s Memorial Hospital site, as well as ethical questions about an $84,000 a year side job that Smith holds.

During the campaign, Smith defended the consulting job she holds for nonprofit the Helen Coburn Meier & Tim Meier Charitable Foundation for the Arts.

“I am always engaged and spending my weekends at events, condo board meetings, block parties, school events,” Smith told the Sun-Times last month. “I work over 60 hours a week and I do consult very proudly for a wonderful nonprofit foundation.”

After Vickrey’s concession on Tuesday, Smith issued a statement to her supporters.

“I’d like to thank Caroline Vickrey for her passion and hard work. She has been a committed community member for over twenty years, and she ran a strong campaign. We look forward to working with her for the betterment of our community,” Smith said. “Thanks to each and every one of you for all you have done. I am humbled by your efforts. We look forward to redoubling our efforts, working together, to move our ward forward.”

In other close races, Susan Sadlowski Garza’s lead has dwindled to just 33 votes ahead of incumbent Ald. John Pope in the Southeast Side’s 10th Ward.

Garza has already claimed victory, while Pope’s campaign officials say they will wait until all votes are tabulated before declaring victory or conceding. Both sides filed the paperwork for a recount on Monday.

Incumbent Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. remains ahead of Marvin McNeil by 286 votes in the South Side’s 21st Ward, and in the 16th Ward, incumbent Ald. Toni Foulkes remains 148 votes ahead of her opponent Stephanie Coleman, daughter of retired Ald. Shirley Coleman.

Milagros “Milly” Santiago, who declared victory on election night, is 86 votes ahead of incumbent Ald. Ray Suarez in the Northwest Side’s 31st ward. Suarez has not conceded, but he issued a statement Monday saying he would not challenge whatever the official results show by April 21.

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners will not be processing ballots again until April 21, which will include provisional ballots and very-late-arriving absentee ballots, according to spokesman Jim Allen.

The formal proclamation of election results will be announced on April 23.

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