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Voters say ‘no’ to Carothers in Cook County board race

Cook County voters on Tuesday were given the chance to make history by sending convicted former Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers, who went down on corruption charges, back into public office.

But they chose not to, electing instead Richard Boykin — a lobbyist and former chief-of-staff for U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D- Ill. – to represent Chicago’s West Side and west suburbs on the Cook County Board.

With 92 percent of precincts reporting, Boykin won by garnering roughly 30.5 percent of the vote. That edged out Blake Sercye — a 27-year-old lawyer who was the choice of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle — who conceded the race to Boykin.

Meanwhile Carothers, who was recently discharged from court-ordered supervision after doing federal time for accepting $40,000 in home renovations, ended up in third place.

“That’s the redline. You can be indicted and still be elected. You can be impeached. But it doesn’t appear you can be convicted and get elected,” said Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois-Chicago professor and political observer who glumly predicted Carothers would win. “It shows things are looking up on the West Side of Chicago.”

Carothers was able to run for the county board — though not his former aldermanic seat — because of a quirk in Illinois law that allows felons to hold county and statewide office, even if they are barred from holding city office.

In other county board races incumbents were in a position to prevail. The lone exception was the race for Northwest Side seat held by county Commissioner Edwin Reyes, a former member of the state police who was appointed to the position in 2009.

With more than 96 percent of the precincts reporting, Reyes lost by 10 percentage points to challenger Luis Arroyo Jr., a city truck driver who is also the scion of state Rep. Luis Arroyo Sr., D-Chicago. Adding an interesting twist to the race was the fact that Arroyo was Reyes’ campaign manager last time he ran for county board. What’s more, the race presented an odd rift between two usual political allies — with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle backing Reyes, and county Assessor Joe Berrios, who is also the head of the Cook County Democratic Party, backed Arroyo.

Sheriff Tom Dart cruised to victory in Tuesday’s primary, paving the way for a third term as the county’s lead law enforcement official.

With roughly 87 percent of precincts reporting, Dart had secured 69 percent of the vote, besting challengers Ted Palka, Bill Evans and Sylvester Baker — all current and former deputies — who failed to garner more 15 percent of the vote.

Dart was apparently confident enough in his chances of re-election that he didn’t see the need to campaign.

“We didn’t run much of a campaign and we didn’t hide from that. People know what we’re doing and we’ll run on our merits,” Dart said by phone Tuesday night, while gathered at his South Side home with friends and family. “We literally didn’t spend any money.”

Meanwhile, Republican county Commissioner Liz Gorman was close to holding off a challenger from the right.

Barbara Bellar, who said she is a doctor and a lawyer, attacked Gorman by calling her a supporter of the Affordable Care Act — President Obama’s signature health care achievement.