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Election Live Blog: Lori Lightfoot wins mayoral race

Lori Lightfoot celebrates at her election night rally at the Hilton Chicago after defeating Toni Preckwinkle in the Chicago mayoral election, Tuesday, April 2, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

10:07 p.m. City Council poised to have most Hispanic, fewest white aldermen ever

Swept along in a tide of change, Chicago’s new City Council appears likely to have the greatest number of Hispanic aldermen ever and the fewest white alderman, since the ward system was adopted.

Following the aldermanic runoffs on Tuesday, Hispanics appear to have picked up at least one seat, for a total of 11.

Rachel Hinton and Mitch Dudek

9:33 p.m. Dynasty dogfights on Northwest Side: Mell, Gutierrez scramble for Council seats

Two political dynasties were at stake on the Northwest Side in Tuesday’s election, as Ald. Deb Mell voiced optimism even as she struggled to hold the City Council seat held by her family since 1975.

33rd Ward aldermanic  candidate Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez shows her “I voted” sticker outside of polling station at the American Indian Center, located in Chicago’s Kimball neighborhood on Election Day, April 2, 2019.| Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times
33rd Ward aldermanic candidate Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez shows her “I voted” sticker outside of polling station at the American Indian Center, located in Chicago’s Kimball neighborhood on Election Day, April 2, 2019.| Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

And in the nearby 30th Ward, Jessica Gutierrez, the daughter of former U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, was trailing in her effort to continue her powerful political lineage.

Tina Sfondeles and Matthew Hendrickson

9:23 p.m. South Side incumbents cling to leads as Dyett hunger striker poised to win 20th

Facing strong showings from their challengers, a trio of incumbent South Side aldermen appeared poised to hold onto their seats by slim margins late Tuesday.

5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston votes Tuesday at O’Keefe Elementary School, 6940. S. Merrill. | Rick Majewski/For the Sun-Times
5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston votes Tuesday at O’Keefe Elementary School, 6940. S. Merrill. | Rick Majewski/For the Sun-Times

And while Alds. Roderick Sawyer, Howard Brookins and Leslie Hairston clung to narrow leads, activist Jeanette Taylor held a commanding 59 percent of the vote over former teacher Nicole Johnson’s roughly 41 percent, with 82 percent of precincts reporting in the race to replace disgraced ex-Ald. Willie Cochran.

Mitch Armentrout and Carlos Ballesteros

9:03 p.m. Longtime Ald. Pat O’Connor trailing in 40th Ward runoff

One of the most senior members of the Chicago City Council appeared in danger of losing his seat Tuesday to a former battle rapper, socialist and political newcomer.

Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th) trailed challenger Andre Vasquez in early results from Tuesday’s runoff election. O’Connor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s floor leader, acknowledged last month that losing the race was a real possibility.

Vasquez had a narrow lead with 52.3 percent of the vote with 72 percent of precincts reporting. O’Connor had 47.7 percent of the vote.

Jon Seidel and Jane Recker

8:49 p.m. Voter turnout expected to near record low

Voters of the 5th ward voting Tuesday at O’Keefe Elementary School. | Rick Majewski/For the SunTimes
Voters of the 5th ward voting Tuesday at O’Keefe Elementary School. | Rick Majewski/For the SunTimes

Despite the mild weather and the allure of taking part in a historic election, voter turnout was expected to be near a record low for Chicago mayoral election.

With about half the city’s precincts reporting an hour after polls closed at 7 p.m. — voter turnout was 16 %. Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesman Jim Allen expected the remaining half of votes to account for about another 16 %. And mail-in ballots tallied post-Election Day usually account for about one % — bringing the expected voter turnout to about 33 %.

The record low turnout in a mayoral election that was set in 2007 when just 33.08 % of voters cast ballots in the contest that saw then Mayor Richard M. Daley be re-elected to his sixth term.

Mitch Dudek

8:05 p.m. Conyears-Ervin trounces Ald. Pawar in city treasurer’s race

State Rep. Melissa Conyears-Ervin will become Chicago’s next city treasurer after trouncing outgoing Ald. Ameya Pawar in Tuesday’s runoff election.

Candidate for City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin at Manny’s Deli, Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times
Candidate for City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin at Manny’s Deli, Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

The election was the first contested treasurer race since 1999, and pitted Pawar against Conyears-Ervin for the job of the city’s banker.

With 70 percent of 2,069 precincts reporting Tuesday, Conyears-Ervin held 59 percent of the vote to Pawar’s 41 percent.

Nader Issa

7:58 p.m. Lori Lightfoot wins mayoral race

Lori Lightfoot will become Chicago’s first openly gay mayor — and the first African-American woman ever to serve as chief executive— after cruising to a landslide victory that transcends the city’s tribal politics.

The Associated Press declared Lightfoot the winner less than an hour after the polls closed.

With 65 percent of the precincts reporting, Lightfoot had 74.2 percent of the vote to Toni Preckwinkle’s 25.7 percent.

Fran Spielman

7 p.m. Polls close

Polls closed at 7 p.m. As results trickle in, stay up to date with our mayoral and alderman election results page.

6:30 p.m. Watch live as election results come in

Sun-Times journalists Robert Herguth and Jenniffer Weigel, joined by guests, break down the most contested races in today’s election as live results roll in. Watch here.

From left, reporters Bob Herguth, Jenniffer Weigel and Fran Spielman discuss the election during a Sun-Times live webcast Tuesday evening. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times
From left, reporters Bob Herguth, Jenniffer Weigel and Fran Spielman discuss the election during a Sun-Times live webcast Tuesday evening. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

6:11 p.m. Candidates for city treasurer vote, share thoughts before results come in

Candidate for city treasurer and 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar and his wife Charna Epstein were vote 50 and 51 at their polling location at Queen of Angels in Ravenswood.

“It was a little bittersweet,” the outgoing alderman said. “No matter what happens today, I’m not going to be alderman, this community gave me a shot eight years ago.”

Pawar said he stayed out of the crowded race of candidates seeking to replace him to encourage the same opportunity that he was given when first elected.

“I won eight years ago after beating the machine because they tried to anoint someone, I wanted to make sure it was a truly open seat free of interference,” Pawar said.

Pawar expected a close race.

“Win or lose, I feel good about what we’ve done,” Pawar said.

His opponent, currently state Rep. Melissa Conyears-Ervin, voted the day before election day where her two-and-a-half year old daughter made her first polling place appearance.

“When I think about my daughter it’s really her and all the children of Chicago that makes me do what I do,” Conyears-Ervin said. “I’m feeling really good.”

She spent election day visiting voters at several stops across the city, from close to O’Hare to the West Side, and will spend her evening watching results from the National Association of Letter Carriers on the South Side.

Alexandra Arriaga

5:54 p.m. Slight increase in turnout as workday ends

With about an hour to go until polls close, the Chicago Board of Election said it saw the highest voter turnout between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., a turnout of 27.3 percent.

3:55 p.m. Melissa Conyears-Ervin spotted at Manny’s Deli

Melissa Conyears-Ervin made an appearance at Manny’s Deli, a longstanding election day tradition for candidates. Conyears-Ervin, the wife of Ald. Jason Ervin (Ward 28), is running for City Treasurer against Ald. Ameya Pawar (Ward 47).

3:20 p.m. Only 23.2 percent of voters have cast ballots

As of 3:20 p.m. election turnout was still on pace to about match the nearly-record low turnout in the February municipal election that elevated Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle into Tuesday’s runoff.

Only 23.2 percent of voters had cast ballots, according to Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesman Jim Allen.

But there’s still several hours to go until polls close at 7 p.m.

“It’s similar, but in the first round on Feb. 26, we saw a significant increase in the numbers starting with this hour — the 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. hour. I don’t know if we’re going to get that this time. We’ll see,” Allen said.

“Ghost town” is the description one voter used to describe the polling place he visited Tuesday afternoon near the Ukrainian Village neighborhood.

Mitch Dudek

2:33 p.m. Englewood voters describe what’s at stake

Turnout was light midday Tuesday at the Salvation Army community center at 950 W. 69th St. in Englewood. Following steady traffic from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., voters slowed to a trickle — one or two every 15 minutes — after 10 a.m.

Staff at the center said they believed many in the neighborhood already had cast ballots; the center was an early-voting site, and traffic had been steady and heavy all week, they said.

In conversation with exiting voters, those willing to say whom they had voted for sided with Lightfoot by about a 3-to-1 ratio, most often citing “change,” but also, nearly as often, mentioning the since-repealed sweetened beverage tax Preckwinkle had helped push through the Cook County Board.

“I voted for Lightfoot because she sticks to the issues and talks about what she’s going to do to bring about change,” said Debra Armand, 66, of Englewood. “I think Preckwinkle is still too old school, and made mistakes like the soda tax.”

Debra Armand, 66, of Englewood, cast her ballot at the Salvation Army community center at 945 W. 69th St. “I voted for Lightfoot because she sticks to the issues and talks about what she’s going to do to bring about change,” she said. “I think Preckwinkle
Debra Armand, 66, of Englewood, cast her ballot at the Salvation Army community center at 945 W. 69th St. “I voted for Lightfoot because she sticks to the issues and talks about what she’s going to do to bring about change,” she said. “I think Preckwinkle is still too old school, and made mistakes like the soda tax.” | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

Preckwinkle backers, meanwhile, usually cited her experience.

“I admire both of them. and hopefully, the best candidate will win,” said Alice Daws, 78, of Englewood. “I voted for Preckwinkle because she was a former teacher and has the experience running government.”

Maudlyne Ihejirika

1:59 p.m. Voter turnout in 2019 a stark contrast to Harold Washington elections

As of 1:02 p.m., voter turnout was just over 20 percent, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. That puts the historic 2019 runoff election — a face-off between two African-American women for the first time ever in a Chicago mayor’s race — on pace with the anemic, near-record-breaking low turnout in the Feb. 26 municipal election earlier this year.

Many paralells have been drawn between this race and the reign of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first-ever African-American mayor. But few similarities can be found in a comparison of voter engagement between Washington’s elections in the 1980s and the turnout in this race and its runoff.

RELATED: History lessons: Lori Lightfoot, Toni Preckwinkle and the road not taken

Harold Washington’s elections set the record for turnout: 82.07 percent in April 1983, 77.49 percent in February 1983, 75.68 percent in February 1987 and 74.08 percent in April 1987.

Mayor Harold Washington speaks at a Democratic rally at the Bismarck Hotel in 1984. Sun-Times File Photo.
Mayor Harold Washington speaks at a Democratic rally at the Bismarck Hotel in 1984. Sun-Times File Photo.

Ald. Ed Burke‘s presence has loomed large over this mayoral race after he was charged with attempted extortion in January. Toni Preckwinkle has faced criticism for her connections to the longtime Chicago alderman, leading her to donate $12,800 in direct contributions from Burke to two non-profit organizations.

12:38 p.m. Low turnout numbers make for ‘a very uneventful day’

At a media briefing held by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, spokesman Jim Allen told reporters that election turnout numbers as of late Tuesday morning are “very similar” to those by the same time in the February election — with total turnout running at about 18.8 percent.

Allen said he was hopeful the numbers would pick up later in the day, as they did in February.

“It’s been a very uneventful day. It’s been very smooth,” he said, noting there had been very few issues at polling stations across the city.

As of noon Tuesday, just shy of 300,000 votes had been cast, according to the elections board. Here are turnout totals by hour and by age group as of 12 p.m.:

From the Chicago Elections Board, the latest turnout numbers by hour and by age group as of noon April 2. | Twitter
From the Chicago Elections Board, the latest turnout numbers by hour and by age group as of noon April 2. | Twitter

— Stefano Esposito

12:08 p.m. Preckwinkle votes

Mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle cast her vote late Tuesday morning at the 22nd precinct polling station.

11:20 a.m. Watch Live election results tonight with the Sun-Times

Sun-Times reporters Robert Herguth and Jenniffer Weigel host will host our election night livestream from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. right here and on Facebook Live. Join guest journalists and politicians and follow along as the returns roll in. Brought to you by AARP Chicago.

Reporters Bob Herguth and Jeniffer Weigel on election night, Tuesday, February 26, 2019. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times
Reporters Bob Herguth and Jeniffer Weigel on election night, Tuesday, February 26, 2019. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

9:42 a.m. Candidates cast their votes

5th ward alderman Leslie Hairston greeted voters after casting her ballot at O’Keefe Elementary school, 6940. S. Merrill. Hairston, who was first elected alderman in 1999, is facing a runoff with William Calloway, an activist who led push for the release of the Laquan McDonald video.

5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston votes at O’Keefe Elementary school, 6940. S. Merrill. | Rick Majewski/For the Sun-Times
5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston votes at O’Keefe Elementary school, 6940. S. Merrill. | Rick Majewski/For the Sun-Times

While it’s expected that candidates will be visible while they’re casting their own votes, there are strict rules governing what’s considered “campaigning” in the proximity of a polling place.

The Election Board maintains a “campaign-free zone” that extends 100 feet from the entrance of every polling place. Campaign signs are permitted on polling-place properties so long as they are outside the “campaign-free zone.” Candidates and their representatives are also prohibited from campaigning too close to a polling place.

9:08 a.m. Still undecided?

Too-close-to-call races in 15 Chicago wards have forced runoffs that will be decided at the polls today. Still on the fence? Our voting guide features profiles of every aldermanic candidate, their responses to our questionnaires on key campaign issues, and our Editorial Board’s endorsements.

Visit our Voting Guide to learn more about the candidates.

8:01 a.m. “I Voted” wristbands rock

Did you know? Chicago’s “I Voted” wristbands, which replaced white paper receipts after vandalism killed the sticker tradition years ago, were inspired by music festival admission bands and are spreading to other cities:

The Chicago Board of Elections explored several alternatives to the stickers that would encourage equal enthusiasm for voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election, including pins. But they came with with a steep price tag, Allen said.

“We were looking at more than $200,000 [for the pins] and we were like, ‘No, that’s not going to fly.’”

While on the hunt for a sticker substitute, a Board of Election Commission staffer at a music festival spotted the durable wristbands used for admission and had the idea that they would work well at polling places, too. While they’re a bit more costly than stickers, the “I Voted” wristbands — which Allen said were first used in Chicago — have been a huge success. Other cities such as Louisville, Kentucky, have begun using them, he said.

Voters got an early start Tuesday morning at the American Indian Center, 3401 W. Ainslie. | Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times
Voters got an early start Tuesday morning at the American Indian Center, 3401 W. Ainslie. | Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

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6:24 a.m. Voting issues? Call the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners

6:02 a.m. Voting sites open across Chicago

Polling places open at 6 a.m. across Chicago.

The Chicago Sun-Times Voting Guide features candidate profiles for every runoff race as well as the Sun-Times Editorial Board’s endorsements.

Still undecided in the mayor’s race? See how Lightfoot and Preckwinkle compare on the issues.

Find your polling place using the Chicago Board of Elections search tool.

5:43 a.m. Turnout predicted to mirror February’s low numbers

Trends indicate voter turnout for Tuesday’s runoff election is on pace to mirror the nearly record-low turnout of 35 percent in the February first round that whittled 14 mayoral candidates to two: Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.

That was the word Monday from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, based on early voting numbers.

“We hope we’re wrong,” board spokesman Jim Allen said Monday. “We hope everyone is just saving their vote for Election Day.”

Polls open across Chicago at 6 a.m.

— Mitch Dudek