Knudsen locks up full term in 43rd Ward as challenger Comer concedes a week after runoff

Timmy Knudsen — the first openly gay person to represent the Lincoln Park ward, and one of the City Council’s youngest members — thanked 43rd Ward voters ‘for turning out in historic numbers.’

SHARE Knudsen locks up full term in 43rd Ward as challenger Comer concedes a week after runoff
Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd), pictured after voting in February 2023, has won a full term.

Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd), shown after casting his ballot in February, has won a full term.

Sun-Times file

Lincoln Park Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd) has officially parlayed his City Council appointment into election to a full term, as challenger Brian Comer on Tuesday conceded defeat a week after the polls closed in their runoff contest.

Knudsen, the first openly gay person to represent the affluent 43rd Ward, had celebrated his “apparent” victory but stopped just short of declaring it on election night, when he led Comer by more than 500 votes.

Comer, president of the Sheffield Neighborhood Association, had hoped outstanding mail ballots would turn the tide of the race, but they only piled up in favor of Knudsen.

The latest mail ballot tally put Knudsen 1,007 votes ahead. Up to 1,152 ballots could still arrive to be counted by April 18, though city election officials don’t expect that many to be returned.

Comer’s campaign released a concession statement Tuesday in which the challenger “wished Timmy well over the next four years.”

Knudsen thanked 43rd Ward voters “for turning out in historic numbers” as well as Comer for bringing “important issues into the campaign.”

“After a spirited campaign, I vow to be a leader who bridges the gap, listens to all parts of our ward, and unites our community,” Knudsen said in a statement. “We all share a common goal of making the 43rd Ward the best it could be, and I’ll seek to uplift that good within our community every single day.”

Knudsen was appointed by outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot last September to replace retired Ald. Michele Smith, and he was forced into a runoff after garnering only about a quarter of the 43rd Ward vote in the Feb. 28 municipal general election.

Comer also emerged from the field of six candidates — several of them with much larger campaign funds, including Knudsen — with a “tough-on-crime” message that resonated in the wealthy North Side ward that also covers much of the Gold Coast and Old Town.

Ald. Timmy Knudsen (left) and challenger Brian Comer participate in a 43rd Ward candidate forum at Lincoln Park High School last month.

Ald. Timmy Knudsen (left) and challenger Brian Comer participate in a 43rd Ward candidate forum at Lincoln Park High School last month.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Knudsen won in spite of his connection to Lightfoot, who proved unpopular in the ward, where she finished a distant third behind Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas.

Knudsen touted endorsements from the highest ranks of the Illinois Democratic Party in his successful bid to secure the surprisingly close race, an effort bolstered by more than $367,000 he raised for his campaign.

The 32-year-old former corporate attorney became the youngest council member when he was appointed last year. But when the new council is sworn in next month, Knudsen will give up that title to 21st Ward Ald.-elect Ronnie Mosley, 31.

That newcomer’s race was decided Monday when runner-up Cornell Dantzler finally conceded to Mosley.

Three other aldermanic runoff outcomes still aren’t officially set — but the leaders are looking more secure by the day as outstanding mail ballot counts wind down.

In the South Side’s 5th Ward, organizer Desmon Yancy led attorney Tina Hone by 423 votes entering Tuesday, with 689 outstanding mail ballots.

On the West Side, incumbent Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) led activist CB Johnson by 318 votes with 547 outstanding mail ballots.

And in the 30th Ward on the Northwest Side, Roosevelt University administrator Ruth Cruz led by 296 over Jessica Gutiérrez, daughter of former U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, with 583 outstanding mail ballots.

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