Chicago Election Day 2023: Vallas and Johnson head to runoff, Lightfoot concedes
The Sun-Times and WBEZ’s coverage of Chicago’s 2023 citywide elections.
The first stage of the 2023 Chicago municipal election took place Tuesday, Feb. 28. In the mayor’s race, Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson will meet in an April 4 runoff after finishing as the top two vote-getters, ending Lori Lightfoot’s bid for a second term. In City Council, at least 10 other races will also head to runoffs. Scroll down for a detailed summary of Election Day coverage from the Sun-Times and WBEZ.
- Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson advanced to an April runoff Tuesday.
- Lori Lightfoot, who was running for a second term, conceded at her campaign watchparty Tuesday night: “I stand here with my head held high and my heart full of thanks.”
- Now that polls have closed, check out our Chicago elections 2023 results page for the latest detailed breakdowns of every race.
Lori Lightfoot, the first Black woman and the first openly gay person ever to serve as mayor of Chicago, on Tuesday became a one-term mayor.
With more than 98 % of the precincts reporting, the mayor who guided Chicago through the pandemic finished third in Tuesday’s election with 16.89% of the vote behind former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, who won 33.95 % and Cook County Commissioner and Chicago Teachers Union organizer Brandon Johnson, who wound up with 20.32%.
Vallas, 69, and Johnson, 46, will face off five weeks from now in the April 4 runoff to decide who will become the 57th mayor of Chicago.
“Obviously, we didn’t win the election. But I stand here with my head held high and my heart full of thanks,” Lightfoot told supporters shortly before 9 p.m.
“You will not be defined by how you fall. You will be defined by how hard you work and how much you do for other people,” she said.
Vallas waited until Lightfoot’s concession call and speech before claiming his place in the runoff. When he did take the podium, he asked the crowd to give the outgoing mayor a round of applause for her service and courage.
“I haven’t been this happy since my son returned from Afghanistan,” Vallas told a crowd of supporters chanting his name.
Vallas then returned to the law-and-order message that carried him into the runoff.
“Public safety is the fundamental right of every American. It is a civil right and it is the principle responsibility of government. We will have a safe Chicago. We will make Chicago the safest city in America,” he said.
A triumphant Johnson claimed his spot in the runoff a few minutes later — with an updated version of what former Mayor Harold Washington said on the day he became Chicago’s first Black mayor in 1983.
“Here’s Brandon,” a beaming Johnson said as his supporters chanted, “We want Brandon.”
“Well Chicago, we did it y’all. They said that this would never happen. I am so freakin’ proud because we did this. A few months ago, they said they didn’t know who I was. Well, if you didn’t know, now you know. ... We have shifted the political dynamics in this city.”
He added, “Tonight is about building a Chicago that truly invests in our people. The most radical thing we can do as a city is to love the people of Chicago. Loving people and investing in people — that is the way my father raised me. The finances of this city belong to the people of the city. So, we’re gonna invest in the people of the city.”
A Vallas-Johnson runoff promises to be a generational battle between “the candidate of the Fraternal Order of Police” and the “candidate of the Chicago Teachers Union,” as veteran political strategist David Axelrod put it.
It will also offer voters the starkest of contrasts on the future of education and policing.
State Rep. Kam Buckner conceded at his election office in Fuller Park around 8:15 p.m. when he was polling at 2%.
Buckner entered the room to the song “Move on Up” by Curtis Mayfield as he hugged and greeted his supporters in the small office space filled with about 40 people.
In his speech, Buckner said whoever becomes mayor should have real concrete plans within the first 40 days in office.
“If not, they can borrow ours,” he said. Buckner said that he was the only candidate that had a concrete public transportation plan, and he hopes somebody will use it.
Buckner alluded to the potential of running for mayor again in 2027, but for now he plans to continue working as a state representative and said he looks forward to working with the next Chicago mayor.
“As we move on to the next fight, I will stay in the arena,” Buckner said. “I ain’t going anywhere.”
After his not-a-concession speech, Ja’Mal Green mingled with the crowd, chatting and posting for selfies, as the DJ kept the music going — Beyoncé, Drake, Nicki Manaji, Lil Wayne.
“This is just the beginning. Our power is strong, our influence is strong,” Green said. “Our generation is ready and they are engaged and they are ready to take the power. I am ready to lead that movement.”
Green congratulated runoff candidates Johnson and Vallas.
“I look forward to a new administration for Chicago and look forward to being apart of making Chicago a better city,” said Green.
South Sider Renna Vesnasis, 83, was disappointed about Green’s loss.
“I really thought he had it. He’s really smart, intelligent,” she said.
But, she added, this election tells her Green has to keep on pushing and one day he will make it.
“Ja’Mal, try again,” she said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot was in a fight she couldn’t have won
A lot happened in four years.
Lori Lightfoot was virtually unknown to most voters four years ago, while her challenger, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, was, and still is, an iconic political figure.
When history is being made, you can’t help but feel a certain amount of pride. So the fact that this Black and openly gay woman won the mayoral race in 2019 seemed almost magical.
Lightfoot needed the majority of Black voters who showed up at the polls to cast a ballot for her in Tuesday’s race. But with so many Black challengers in the race, that wouldn’t happen. A low voter turnout didn’t help.
But the results of Tuesday’s election also showed us how difficult it is to bring about change.
Candidate for 11th Ward alderman Tony Ciaravino, hugged supporters and waved goodbye as they left his election party at Strongholds Garage in Canaryville.
“The best is yet to come,” he told them, eyeing the April runoff against incumbent Ald. Nicole Lee.
Ciaravino, a Chicago cop focused on officer wellness and training, said for the current safety needs of the ward, he’s the right choice.
“I know what our community needs, I know we’re living in fear,” he told the Sun-Times.
“If you’re the victim of an armed robbery, with a weapon of war pointed at your face and told to get on the ground, who are you going to call? Are you going to call a repair man? A fireman? You’re going to call police because you’re in need of help ... I’m the best qualified candidate for that top priority.”
Facing an uphill battle in a ward that’s been a Daley family stronghold for decades, Ciaravino said 11th Ward residents want and need new representation.
“If there’s true change that people want, I think they vote for me. They vote for new leadership.”
Ciaravino supporters ate, drank and danced their way through election night, surrounded by speakers blaring upbeat music and signs touting his slogan: “Your safety is my concern.”
Tuesday’s election promised significant change for Chicago’s City Council, and not just because 16 members who were around four years ago resigned over the last year or opted to not run again.
All told, there were 40 contested Council races Tuesday — 29 featuring incumbents and 11 with all new candidates — with many of those on the ballot poised to push the Council further to the left and corporate donors doing what they can to prevent that from happening.
Along with 10 Council candidates with no opposition, they will be governing over a different terrain, literally, as the longtime boundaries of the city’s 50 wards have changed.
Long after the polls closed at 7 p.m., though, it still wasn’t clear who among more than 170 would-be alderpersons would win — thanks to relatively tight vote margins in certain races and thousands of outstanding, or uncounted, mail-in ballots citywide.
Here’s what is known:
• Based on early returns, at least 10 of the 40 contested races could be headed for a runoff, which occurs when there are more than two candidates in a race and nobody secures more than 50% of the total. In such cases, the top two vote-getters go head-to-head in a winner-take-all election April 4.
The 11th Ward, longtime power center of the Daley family, is one place a runoff is looking possible, with incumbent Ald. Nicole Lee in a tight race with Anthony Ciaravino.
• In the Southwest Side’s 14th Ward, a stunner could be the works as a candidate backed by retiring Ald. Edward M. Burke, Raul Reyes, trailed Jeylu Gutierrez, a candidate backed by U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, an unsuccessful candidate for mayor Tuesday.
With all precincts reporting, Gutierrez had 65% of the vote to Reyes’ 35%.
There are more than 500 uncounted mail-in ballots in that ward, which includes parts of the Gage Park and Brighton Park neighborhoods.
• In the nearby 13th Ward that includes Midway Airport, Ald. Marty Quinn, an acolyte of ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, appears to be safe from a challenge by Paul Bruton, a stay-at-home dad and former analyst with the Chicago inspector general’s office.
With 95% of precincts reporting, Quinn had about 88% of the vote.
City records show there are more than 1,000 mail-in ballots that still haven’t been counted.
• In the 1st Ward, incumbent Ald. Daniel La Spata was the top vote-getter among a field of four in a hard-fought race for an area that includes Wicker Park and Logan Square, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether he’d have enough votes to avoid a runoff.
With 96% of precincts reporting, La Spata had roughly 49% of the vote, followed by Sam Royko, son of late newspaper columnist Mike Royko, with about 24%.
Proco “Joe” Moreno, the former alderman trying to make a political comeback, was just under 8%. He lost in 2019 after a series of embarrassing incidents involving drinking, a car crash and a girlfriend.
Ald. Jason C. Ervin (28th) faced a challenge from Shawn A. Walker after the Illinois Appellate Court ruled less than a week ago that Walker’s name could appear on the ballot.
Ervin was leading with 76% of votes with 88% of precincts counted Tuesday night
Ervin has served on the City Council since 2011. The 28th Ward includes the Near West Side, North Lawndale, Garfield Park and Austin.
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), who has served on the City Council since 2000, was ahead with 62% of the votes with 73% precincts counted.
Jake Towers, Corey Denelle Braddock and Howard Ray — who received about 28% of votes — all sought to unseat Mitts.
The 37th Ward includes parts of Humboldt Park, Belmont Cragin, Austin and Garfield Park.
Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), the chairman of the City Council’s public safety committee, faced challenges from CB Johnson and Corey Dooley.
Taliaferro has served as alderman of the ward — which includes Austin, Galewood and Montclare — since 2015.
Taliaferro led with 52% of the votes with 88% of the precincts reporting Tuesday night. Johnson had nearly 39% of votes.
Ald. Michael D. Rodriguez (22nd) Tuesday seemed to be fending off challenges from Neftalie Gonzalez, a business owner, and Kristian R. Armendariz, a community organizer.
Rodriguez secured 66% of the votes with 95% of precincts reporting.
The 22nd Ward includes parts of Little Village, Garfield Ridge and North Lawndale.
Ald. Monique Scott (24th) faced challenges from seven candidates vying for the ward that oversees Lawndale on the city’s West Side.
Scott — who was appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to replace her brother, Michael Scott Jr., — led with 43% of the votes with 70% of the precincts counted.
Her challengers included: Traci Treasure Johnson, Drewone Goldsmith, Creative Scott, Edward Ward, Vetress M. Boyce, Luther Woodruff Jr. and Larry G. Nelson.
Creative Scott had about 15% of votes, and Boyce had 12% of votes.
25th Ward update
Aida Flores, tried to unseat Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, from the 25th Ward which includes Pilsen, Little Italy, Little Village and University Village.
The election was a rematch for the two who vied for the seat in 2019. Sigcho-Lopez led with 53% of the votes with 88% of precincts reporting Tuesday night. Flores had nearly 47% of votes.
Before polls closed, Sigcho-Lopez talked to voters at William F. Finkl Academy.
“It gets nice out and some people go vote or go do something else,” Sigcho-Lopez said.
At Joseph Jungman STEM Magnet School, Flores campaigned with mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia about an hour before polls closed.
Former prosecutor Bill Conway wins aldermanic race in newly drawn Fulton Market, West Loop ward
Bill Conway’s daughter, Birdie, ran into his arms just as he declared victory in the newly drawn 34th Ward that now encompasses the West Loop, Fulton Market and Greektown Tuesday night.
Less than two hours after polls closed, the former Cook County prosecutor told a cheering crowd at Carnivale that his first course of action would “really be to make sure our police officers have the resources they need to fight crime and what I can get out of my aldermanic budget to do that.”
The 34th Ward used to include West Pullman, Roseland and Morgan Park, but was changed during the redistricting process after indicted Ald. Carrie Austin opted to not to seek reelection.
Two hours after polls closed, Conway led with 67% of the votes with 90% of the precincts counted. Candidate Jim Ascot, who conceded, received about 33% of the votes.
“We just hope Bill Conway does the best he can for the ward,” Ascot’s campaign manager, Denis Ascot, said.
11th Ward Ald. Nicole Lee appears headed toward runoff
As the mayor who appointed her conceded her race Tuesday night, 11th Ward Ald. Nicole Lee was pushed into a runoff to defend her job representing Chinatown and the Daley stronghold Bridgeport.
Lee, the daughter of a Daley family loyalist, enjoyed a major fundraiser hosted by former Mayor Richard M. Daley and one of his brothers in the hopes she’d retain the seat their nephew Patrick Daley Thompson was forced from when he was convicted of tax fraud.
But with four of every five votes counted in Bridgeport, Armour Square, Chinatown, Canaryville and East Pilsen, Lee had failed to garner 50% of the vote, and at times trailed ever so slightly behind Anthony “Tony” Ciaravino, a Chicago police officer and CAPS member.
Early results showed both with about 31% of the vote. The next closest candidate was Chicago firefighter Don Don with 19%. Ambria Taylor, a teacher, had 12%. Chicago Public Schools civics teacher Froylan “Froy” Jiminez and business owner Elvira “Vida” Jiminez, had 2% each and attorney Steve Demitro had 1%.
At Ciaravino’s party Tuesday night, music blared from large speakers and motorcycles donned the walls at Stockyards Garage in Canaryville where Ciaravino’s supporters were awaiting results. They sipped on refreshments and grazed snacks, surrounded by plenty of signs touting the slogan of the police officer: “Your safety is my concern.”
Lee’s supporters — many sporting sweatshirts and knit caps with her campaign logo — met her in the dining room at New Furama Restaurant, which boasts a location “at the crossroads of Chicago’s southside Chinatown and Bridgeport neighborhoods.”
Lee is off and running in her campaign for the runoff election, calling on voters who stayed home or voted for an opponent to support her in the April race. pic.twitter.com/tuVxoAxRIK— Mary Norkol (@mary_norkol) March 1, 2023
Gardiner appears headed to runoff in 45th as incumbents (mostly) cruise in Northwest Side wards
Facing political headwinds from a string of first-term scandals, freshman incumbent Ald. James Gardiner had pulled out to a commanding lead in his bid for a second term in the Northwest Side 45th Ward.
With 90% of precincts reporting, Gardiner had 48% of the vote in a six-way race, near the 51% total needed to avoid a runoff. Rivals Megan Mathias, an attorney, and businessman James Suh were in a close race for second, and a potential slot in the runoff, with around 15% each.
Gardiner’s campaign staff said the incumbent was celebrating with family and friends and had not planned a party to watch returns. Reached by phone around 8:45 p.m., Gardiner declined comment.
“We’re not going to talk until we get the results,” he said.
Ald. Daniel La Spata was maintaining a wide lead in the 1st Ward race Tuesday night but it wasn’t clear if the far left City Council member would be able to prevent a runoff election.
And another North Side incumbent — Ald. Timmy Knudsen, appointed to the 43rd Ward post last year by outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot — also appeared headed to a second round of voting.
They were the exceptions in a night that otherwise went largely in the favor of sitting City Council members on the North and Northwest sides.
La Spata led with 49.5% of the vote with 96% of precincts reporting, but there were more than 4,400 mail ballots that could still make their way in.
Running a distant second was attorney Sam Royko, son of the legendary Chicago columnist Mike Royko, who had 23.6% of the vote. Preservationist Stephen “Andy” Schneider had 19.4%.
Disgraced ex-Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno’s political comeback attempt appeared to fall well short as he trailed with 7.4% of the vote.
Four years ago, she was a darling among national Democrats. The first openly gay Black woman to serve as mayor of Chicago and only the second woman to do so in the city’s history.
On Tuesday, she joined Jane Byrne and Michael Bilandic as the only elected mayors of Chicago to be denied a second term since Prohibition.
How did Lori Lightfoot fall so far, so fast, to the point where she couldn’t even make it into a runoff between the two top finishers?
Part of it was the hand she was dealt: the pandemic, civil unrest triggered by the murder of George Floyd and the violent crime wave after those demonstrations.
But Lightfoot’s popularity actually soared during the pandemic. She almost embraced playing the heavy, shutting down the lakefront and admonishing people to stay home. It played into her dictatorial personality, inspiring an avalanche of hysterical memes the mayor was smart enough to embrace.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker was dealt that same bad hand but managed to win a second term, albeit after spending over $132 million of his personal fortune — some of it to boost Darren Bailey in the Republican primary, essentially hand-picking his fall opponent.
Bad timing is too simple an explanation for Lightfoot’s stunning political downfall.
It does not explain why violent crime is up 40% since Lightfoot promised during her inaugural address to stop the “epidemic of gun violence that devastates families, shatters communities, holds children hostage to fear in their own homes” and leaves parents wondering “if Chicago is a place where they can continue to live and raise their children.”
It does not explain why Lightfoot has been such a disappointment to the lakefront voters who formed the base of her support in 2019. Lightfoot opposed the elected school board after saying she’d support it, failed to deliver the transparency she had promised and broke her pledge to raise the real estate transfer tax on high-end home sales to create a dedicated funding source to reduce homelessness.
Bad timing also can’t explain Lightfoot’s inability to get along with people and a relationship with the City Council so contentious at least seven members of her own leadership team abandoned ship, endorsing other mayoral candidates.
Read Spielman’s full analysis here.
At U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s election-night party, former Chicago Park District Board President and ex-Deputy Illinois Gov. Jesse Ruiz said perennially weak voter turnout among Latinos was the main factor in Garcia’s failure to make the runoff, as he had in 2015.
“Unfortunately we still don’t see the strength of Latino numbers commensurate with their population,” Ruiz said. “I keep looking forward to the day when they are punching at their weight and come out and vote so that they can elect a person from their own community for an office such as mayor of Chicago.”
Garcia had not yet conceded, but the AP called the race for Vallas and Lightfoot.
Ald. Sophia King held steady around 1.2% of available votes from the time she arrived at her own party to the time she left the podium, promising a drink and a game of bid whist in her future.
However, she still came in smiling, greeting nearly every voter by name with her baby granddaughter in her arms.
In a bright blue pantsuit and mauve sneakers, King worried aloud that the wide gap between the policing stances of Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson would silence voters in the middle of the “pendulum swing[ing] right and back left.”
“It looks like we’re going to have two candidates who are on the extremes of where the city actually is,” King said. “We have, you know, somebody who’s talking about law and order on the right, somebody who’s talking about defund the police on the left, and I’m going to really encourage them to adopt, you know, some of our policy. Our city really needs to come together.”
During a speech split between sweet family homages and ominous political predictions, her mother made a surprise entrance, gracing the podium in a long red pantsuit.
King declined to endorse any other mayoral candidate. She did endorse chief of staff Prentice Butler for 4th Ward alderman and pledged to stay involved in ward and city political spheres, as an advocate for alternative response to policing.
Shortly after King finished speaking and “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire rocked through the speakers, incumbent Lori Lightfoot conceded, while Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson both advanced to the April runoff election.
A crowd of about 200 supporters cheered for businessman Willie Wilson
as he took the stage around 8:45 pm.
Wilson said he called his “good friend” Paul Vallas tonight and congratulated him for making the runoff.
But Wilson also said he’s not planning to concede tonight because the race is “too close to call” and that mail-in ballots are still being counted. Wilson had less than 10% of the vote, with 91% of precincts reporting.
Wilson thanked his family, friends, supporters and the media, and seemed to be in good spirits.
“We’re going to take time and wait out this next week or two. Let’s see what happens. We do believe Christ is in control of everything,” Wilson said.
The band played “Sweet Home Chicago” as he marched off stage with his supporters and family members trailing him.
“When you leave and pray tonight, don’t forget about me,” he told the crowd.
Just after addressing supporters and speaking to drum up momentum for her expected April runoff against opponent Tony Ciaravino, 11th Ward Ald.
Nicole Lee heard of the news that Mayor Lori Lightfoot had conceded the mayoral race to Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson, who will head to their own runoff.
“It was a hard-fought fight for her, I appreciate the opportunity that she gave to me by appointing me to this role,” Lee said. “Nothing but respect for [the] mayor. I can only imagine, knowing how much it takes to run just for an alderman’s seat, everything that you put into wanting a future that you have a vision for ... [it’s] bittersweet. I appreciate everything that she’s done for me.”
Lee’s own race isn’t over, and she pledged to find common ground with voters who had supported her opponents in order to earn their support in the runoff. She also addressed those who sat out of this election: “There’s still a lot of people who sat out.”
Lee is off and running in her campaign for the runoff election, calling on voters who stayed home or voted for an opponent to support her in the April race. pic.twitter.com/tuVxoAxRIK— Mary Norkol (@mary_norkol) March 1, 2023
It has been an all-night celebration at Brandon Johnson’s election headquarters on the West Side.
Comedian Lisa Beasley took the stage after news broke that incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot conceded. Beasley, known for impersonating the current Mayor, said she has never cared about an election before.
“Look at what we did!” She yelled, pointing to an image of the current totals projected on a wall.
Comedian Lisa Beasley, known for her impersonations of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, takes the stage — “Look at what we did!” pic.twitter.com/8j51iwdliZ— Sophie Sherry (@SophiePSherry) March 1, 2023
Excitement grew at Paul Vallas’ West Side election party as Vallas moved into the mayoral runoff.
“I feel great about this,” said Thomas Simmons, a canvasser who has worked on Vallas’ campaign. There was no question in West Sider’s mind Vallas would handily win the runoff. “He’s gonna win it hands down,” he said.
Waiters passed out plates of mini burgers, falafel and hummus. Bartenders staffed an open bar.
Another supporter, Keith Thornton, said, “We’re all really excited and happy for Paul.
“I’m a native of Chicago. Was born and raised on the West Side of Chicago. A Black, gay man,” he said. “The leadership that we’ve had for the last several years does not take care of people like me — or the people who don’t look like me.
“I’m just so excited for the city of Chicago going in this direction,” he said.
Vallas says Lightfoot called to congratulate him on getting into the runoff. “I want to thank her. Give her a round of applause,” he says pic.twitter.com/DC0sZtagB6— David Struett (@dstru312) March 1, 2023
Even as three incumbents held wide leads over challengers Tuesday, there will be at least five new faces in the Chicago City Council representing the South Side.
Incumbents Michelle Harris (8th), Anthony Beale (9th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th) each faced two challengers, but all three had comfortable leads over their opponents Tuesday night.
With a wide field of candidates, at least some races are expected to be headed to April 4 runoffs, preliminary returns show. Candidates had to garner at least 50% of the vote in Tuesday’s election to win outright.
Half of 10 South Side wards had open seats, with Sophia King (4th) and Roderick Sawyer (6th) both running unsuccessfully for mayor, and Leslie Hairston (5th), Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) and Howard Brookins (21st) choosing not to seek re-election.
Desmon Yancy, endorsed by Ald. Hairston for the 5th Ward seat, led with 25% of the vote over Martina Hone with about 17%, with more than two-thirds of precincts reported.
Shortly after polls closed, Yancy leaned over a computer that showed the 51-year-old community organizer with an early lead in the 5th Ward. About 50 of his supporters cheered and took pictures as James Brown’s “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” pulsed through the storefront office in South Shore.
A jubilant Jeylu said she was looking forward to her new role on the city council.
“I’m so excited. I migrated to this country full of dreams. I’m a momma too, and a former educator. In this campaign trail, I saw a lot of my former students and families that I worked with before. I served as a district director and I helped them and we worked together. So I can’t wait to now continue to serve them in this new capacity as an Alderwoman and get things done.”
At the headquarters of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression on the South Side, energy was high and positive.
About 20 or so district council candidates who had been endorsed by the organization gathered at the headquarters and sat on foldout chairs, waiting for results on their races for the new offices.
NAARPR had pushed to establish the ordinance creating the district councils for over a decade. The councils were created in 2021 after years of lobbying by activists seeking to give Chicago residents greater control over the Police Department.
The NAARPR office was filled with posters which read, “Chicago Police Accountability is up to the people.”
— Anna Savchenko, WBEZ
Southwest Side incumbents jump to early leads — including one who rebuked Madigan
Two incumbent Southwest Side City Council members took healthy leads in early voting results Tuesday night — including one who has distanced herself from indicted former Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.
The contests in the 13th, 14th and 23rd wards were framed by the aggressive work in recent years of the office of U.S. Attorney John Lausch, which secured expansive racketeering indictments against Madigan and Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th).
Ald. Silvana Tabares led Tuesday night in the 23rd Ward, Ald. Marty Quinn led in the 13th, and candidate Jeylú Gutiérrez was leading in the 14th. But the results were somewhat clouded by the large number of outstanding mail-in ballots.
In the 23rd Ward, Tabares faced a challenge from community organizer and small-business owner Eddie Guillen. Tabares had 72.11% of the vote with 90.91% of precincts counted.
Guillen is a former chief of staff for state Rep. Angie Guerrero-Cuellar, who was appointed by Madigan to replace him after he resigned from the General Assembly in 2021. Guillen did not respond to an interview request during the campaign.
Jeylu Gutierrez, candidate for 14th Ward, set her campaign party at U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s event, where supporters Tuesday night sang the aldermanic candidate’s praises. Gutierrez is running against Raul Reyes to replace Ald. Ed Burke, who decided not to run again as he awaits a federal corruption trial.
Gutierrez supporters included Eira Corral Sepulveda, commissioner on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
“I’ve known Jeylu for many years. She is such a hard working woman, she has great experience with CPS,” Sepulveda said. “I really think that she is someone who has a lot of heart for community organizing and reaching out to the community which is something the 14th ward needs.”
Gutierrez could make history by becoming the 14th Ward’s first alderperson of Latino descent.
— Michael Puente | WBEZ
Incumbent 40th Ward Ald. Andre Vasquez has locked up a second term with more than 78% of the vote and all precincts reporting.
His lead in the North Side ward surpasses the number of mail ballots that could still come in.
The crowd at Garcia’s election night party at the Apollo’s in Little Village was subdued as a Mariachi band started playing on stage.
Results from the election show Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia behind both Brandon Johnson and Lori Lightfoot for a second runoff spot. Former CPS CEO Paul Dallas secured the first spot earlier in the night.
One Garcia supporter said “It’s not over till it’s over,” but also lamented an apparent low voter turnout.
Mariachi getting ready to play here. Despite the lively music, many attendees here are sitting at tables and staring at their phones as result show Chuy behind. #ChicagoElection pic.twitter.com/7btcVboftO— Emmanuel Camarillo (@mannycam) March 1, 2023
The early-evening crowd was sparse for the Chuy Garcia campaign’s party at the Apollo’s 2000 banquet on Cermak Road, a short distance from the congressman’s home in the Little Village neighborhood.
The few who were there expressed disappointment at the early returns that showed Garcia trailing.
Rico Enriquez, a courier who was born and raised in Chicago, said he was expecting Garcia to qualify for the runoff but Enriquez said, “It’s not looking good. I’m kind of upset. I thought for sure he would be Number 2 because mainly there’s a big Hispanic population here and the Black vote is split between like seven people, but it’s not working.”
Enriquez, who has Cuban heritage, said he supported Garcia because, “I’m Latin and he’s Latin.”
He added that, “Sometimes, good guys don’t finish first.”
Just after 8 p.m., mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green arrived at the podium and greeted a cheering crowd.
Reminding the crowd that he was the youngest candidate ever for mayor of Chicago, he said this has been a long eight months, but he is excited for the movement he and his supporters have built.
But despite being in sixth place, at 2% of the vote with about 87% of precincts reporting, Green did not concede.
“We are not done yet until every vote is counted,” Green said. “Regardless of the outcome, we are a fixture in this city. Our message is going to resonate with this city and with this state.”
A few dozen supporters for 43rd Ward Aldermanic Candidate Timmy Knudsen packed the second floor of Blue Door Farm Stand on Halstead.
It was an intimate setting with a small food buffet in the center, and an open bar in the corner.
The North Side alderman is running for election after being appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot when incumbent, Michele Smith, stepped down.
Current Ald. Nicole Lee, who was appointed to the role by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to replace Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson after he was forced to resign following a fraud conviction, greeted supporters and offered Chinese food and refreshments.
The Chicago Board of Elections reported 2,588 votes for Lee, trailing opponent Anthony “Tony” Ciaravino’s 2,604 with 78% of precincts reporting.
Paul Vallas makes Chicago mayoral runoff
Former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas advanced to an April runoff Tuesday in the nine-way mayoral contest, but whom he will face remained unclear.
But Mayor Lori Lightfoot appeared to be trailing, and is poised to miss the April runoff entirely, a stunning reversal from four years ago when she won every ward in her 2019 mayoral election and potentially the first time in 40 years an elected Chicago mayor lost re-election.
In early returns, the first-term Chicago mayor trailed Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson in a contest where — absent any candidate topping 50% — only the top two finishers move onto the next round of voting.
The Associated Press called it for Vallas to be in the runoff less than an hour after polls closed.
Vallas is expected to speak any minute now. He’s leading early polls pic.twitter.com/rvyPzrH80r— David Struett (@dstru312) March 1, 2023
Lori Lightfoot is well on her way to being a one-term mayor.
With 84% of the precincts reporting in Tuesday’s mayoral election, Lightfoot had 16% of the vote, well behind front-runner Paul Vallas, at about 35%, and Brandon Johnson, at 20%.
If those numbers hold, Vallas, 69, and Johnson, 46, will face off in the April 4 runoff to decide who will become the 57th mayor of Chicago.
That would set up a generational battle between “the candidate of the Fraternal Order of Police” and the “candidate of the Chicago Teachers Union,” as veteran political strategist David Axelrod put it.
It will also offer voters the starkest of contrasts on the future of education and policing.
With 80% of precincts reporting in the 45th Ward, incumbent James Gardiner, whose first term saw the city firefighter become one of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s most strident critics— as well as the unusual scene of Gardiner reading an apology to his fellow aldermen from the City Council floor after leaked emails showed him using crude, misogynistic language to refer to some of his peers and constituents— is out to a commanding lead in a six-way race.
Despite the specter of a federal investigation of is apparent threat to withhold ward services from residents he considered supporters of is rivals, and the indictment of his ward superintendent for selling a machine gun to an undercover ATF agent, Gardiner has 47% of the vote, well within range of the 51% needed to avoid a run-off, as he did four years ago when he ousted incumbent John Arena.
In second with 16% is attorney Megan Mathias, who began campaigning two years ago, only to find her house drawn out of ward boundaries in last year’s remap.
The crowd at a West Side ballroom swelled shortly after polls closed as supporters awaited mayoral candidate Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson.
There was an open bar, where people nursed Modelo beer, wine and other beverages over a loud steady beat of music. A long row of tables were packed with pulled pork sliders, small cups of vegetables and platters of fruit.
The crowd included David Hernandez, a high school computer science teacher in Little Village and a Chicago Teachers Union delegate. Johnson is a CTU organizer and lives on the West Side.
“Brandon is better for so many reasons,” Hernandez said. “I like his phrasing, Investor in Chief. I think that’s what his campaign is all about. Making sure that we deal with root cause issues, and I think that’s what caused a surge in the polling. People that live and reside in Chicago can relate to that.”
Hernandez said he though a runoff between Johnson and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas would be an interesting match-up, noting the different approaches these two Democrats would take to city government.
Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas has taken the lead in Chicago’s mayoral race with 75% of precincts reporting.
Less than an hour after polls closed, Vallas had 36% of the vote with Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson trailing behind at 20%. Incumbent Lori Lightfoot was closely behind him with 15.7% of the vote.
Supporters trickled into the Swissotel in downtown Chicago for Willie Wilson’s election night “victory party.”
A live band called Sherri Weathersby and Down to the Ground played R&B and the blues as people mingled.
Katie Wilson, a social media influencer from Bronzeville, said she came to the party to celebrate because she’s confident that Wilson will win.
She cited his gas card giveaway as proof that he’s a good man and cares about people.
“I feel like he’s the most successful candidate that’s running.
And he’s invested a lot of his own money into his campaign. He’s already wealthy — he doesn’t have to run for mayor and try to help but he chooses to,” Wilson said.
— Nereida Morena | WBEZ
At Ja’Mal Green’s election night party at the Sinclair Chicago in the Loop, the doors were open but nobody was home.
With election results coming in, guests were nowhere to be found.
On Instagram, Green was live streaming from outside the venue, telling voters they had one more hour and to stay in line through 7 p.m. to cast their ballots.
Green’s team hung up mayoral signs around an all-white marble-floored room.
Breaking the silence in the otherwise empty room, a DJ played R&B remixes of classics like Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”
Polls have now officially closed and turnout so far lagged 2019’s tallies.
City election officials say 507,852 ballots were cast so far, about 32% of registered Chicago voters.
But vote-by-mail has been more popular this municipal election than last, and there are still 99,000 vote-by-mail applications that have not been returned.
In 2019, the city saw a turnout of more than 35% of registered voters, with about 560,701 total ballots cast.
— Angela Rozas O’Toole | WBEZ
Supporters for Paul Vallas gathered at the venue City Hall in the West Loop. Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Bruce Springstein’s “Born in the USA” played over the speakers and signs with the message “Putting Crime and Your Safety First” littered the tables.
Vallas has positioned himself as the law and order candidate, promising to increase the number of police on Chicago’s streets, a message that resonated with attendees.
“I live up north in a bungalow district with relatively low crime and it’s getting closer to home every single day,” said Keith Forshaw, 49. “Paul has a plan with the police. I like his plan. I think he can execute on it. “
— Shannon Heffernan
Place is filling up. Spoke with a couple folks who canvassed for Vallas. They’re feeling confident about tonight pic.twitter.com/Uu6XFqsDYM— David Struett (@dstru312) March 1, 2023
Forest Glen residents Christopher Ramos and Brandi Marks, who are husband and wife, were focused more on voting for their ward and police district council representatives rather than the mayoral race.
For Marks, 26, who works in hospitality, she came out to vote to reelect Rossana Rodríguez, the 33rd Ward alderperson. Marks said she appreciates that Rodríguez regularly engages directly with the community.
“She is actually out and doing things in the community and hosting events like block parties, which we really appreciate,” said Marks, who joined her husband at Wildwood Elementary School to vote Tuesday evening.
Ramos, 28, was especially interested in voting for who would represent the 17th district police council. As a person of color, he said he often feels uncomfortable and scared of police.
“I don’t want to feel afraid,” Ramos said. “I know there’s a certain amount of aggression that comes with the job, but I’ve had police get too aggressive with me and I think there’s a line that they should not cross.”
He said he hopes the council focuses on reform in the 17th district and prevents police from using excessive force.“I love this city, it’s a wonderful place to live. I just want to feel safe,” Ramos said.
As polls closed across the city, about 35 Sophia King supporters and 4th Ward residents chatted energetically at King’s election night party at Bronzeville Winery.
As they sipped cognac and gin cocktails through glittery gold straws and flagged down endless trays of steak and salmon crostini, residents caught up on each others’ families and work lives. In the corner, a bronze velvet couch is reserved for King’s extended family, who will watch her speak later in the evening.
Fourth Ward residents Shena Bowers, 39, and L. Anne Hall, 44, arrived in custom camouflage jackets reading “There’s Nothing Like A Sistah” in support of mayoral candidate Sophia King.
King was a particular mentor to Hall when she was growing up, Hall said. Hall would sleep and study at King’s house often, and King even gave her rides to school.
“She’s raised me since I was 16 years old,” Hall said. “She took me in like one of her own children.”
Now, Hall and Bowers, have moved from staunch supporters of King’s aldermanic career to cheerleaders of her mayoral hopes.
At incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s election night party at the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council’s Downtown headquarters in River North, hits like “Superfly” by Curtis Mayfield played while media buckled in for a potentially late night.Bunches of red, white and blue balloons dotted the ballroom as caterers set-up and Wheel of Fortune played on two projector screens where election results would be displayed later in the night.
Guests were expected to fill in closer to 7 p.m., with City Council allies and City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin anticipated to make an appearance.
Earlier in the day, Lightfoot visited Manny’s Deli and wards across the South and West sides as she made her final pitch to voters.
— Tessa Weinberg | WBEZ
Fifteen minutes till polls close and the Lightfoot party is filling up with press. No sign of the mayor or her allies.— Tom Schuba (@TomSchuba) March 1, 2023
Wheel of Fortune is on the big screens. Fleetwood Mac’s “You Can Go Your Own Way” is playing.
“Go your own way
You can call it
Another lonely day” pic.twitter.com/NDWSWj2KYU
Get the latest analysis, numbers and context on the Chicago mayor’s race and so much more with RESET host Sasha-Ann Simons, WBEZ political reporter Mariah Woelfel and Chicago Sun-Times chief political reporter Tina Sfondeles.
Listen to wbez.org or 91.5 FM at 7 p.m. as polls close and numbers begin rolling in. Stay with WBEZ all evening.
Just an hour before the polls closed, Briana Ragan, a 12-year South Loop resident, came out to vote at the National Teacher’s Academy because she “just wants to see a change in Chicago.”
In the 3rd Ward, where Ragan lives, residents had a slim ballot — just one choice, incumbent Pat Dowell.
“It sucks,” Ragan said. “Chicago is being run by Chicago, and that isn’t the way it should be.”
“I just wish there were more options and more people running… one is not enough.”
Brandon Smith, an IT professional and 16-year Chicago resident, wasn’t as bothered by the lack of options in the 3rd Ward.
“It is what it is,” Smith said. “[Dowell] is doing as good, if not better, than a lot of aldermen in the city… It’s kind of hard to unseat an alderman in that position.”
Smith also wasn’t bothered by the idea of a runoff, though he noted if it takes too long, it could create doubt in some circles about the fairness of the election.
“I’m not so much concerned about the rapid return of results as much as the accuracy,” Smith said. “It’s a double edged sword because you don’t want the ballots sitting for days… Not that I think anything’s going on, but it needs to be timely before errors begin to occur.”
About an hour before polls closed, 25th Ward candidate Aida Flores stood outside of Joseph Jungman STEM Magnet School in Pilsen with mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” García and several volunteers.
“Polls close in one hour,” she reminded passersby, switching between English and Spanish as she stomped her feet to keep warm.
Garcia posed for photos with Flores. “I look forward to her election. She represents that new generation of leadership in City Council.”
The head to head race between Flores and Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez — the two Near Lower West Side candidates — has been tense and peppered with personal attacks but Flores had no words for her opponent before polls closed.
“It comes down to what our community is going to say, what they are saying with regards to what our needs are,” she said.
Outside Dr. Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy in Belmont Cragin, Doris Aguirre has been there in front of the 36th District polling site since 5 a.m. She believes voter turnout is down in her community because many are simply worried about keeping a roof over their heads.
“We Hispanics, even though we have that right to exercise the vote, we don’t care,” Aguirre said. “We come from countries where we were mistreated politically. So we have focused here on working and supporting our family without getting involved in politics. And we are missing out on a great right.”
“We need a safe community, a thriving community, a community with affordable housing, a community free of all the dangers that may be out there for our children.”
She also said she thinks the community didn’t know there was an election Tuesday—at midday, about only 65 people had voted at that site, according to two election judges.
Hoy hablé con votantes latinos en los distritos 33º y 36º sobre las temas políticas que más les importan, para @lavozchi/@suntimeshttps://t.co/2IVaDY4yEn pic.twitter.com/L0DlDZU021— Ambar Colón (@MeDicenAmbi) March 1, 2023
At Stephen K. Hayt Elementary School in the 48th Ward, Ryan Livingston, a 36-year-old contractor and lifelong Chicagoan, came out to fulfill his civic duty and to vote for candidates who want to promote Chicago as a great place to live.
“This is a great city and I want it to be promoted that way,” said Livingston, an Edgewater resident. “I’d like for someone to be a strong voice for the city and to highlight the good things.”
He also said he’d like more bike lanes to make the city more accessible.
Angel Arroyo, also an Edgewater resident, wants to see the city cleaned up and revitalized.
“Downtown used to be clean, and now there’s debris and trash everywhere. The lakefront also needs to be cleaned up,” said Arroyo, who works as an engineer for a downtown residential building.
He also wants a stronger police presence on the North Side and for the city to do more to help the homeless population by providing more mental health services and housing.
Panagiota Sidereas, a 70-year-old retiree and Edgewater resident, said economic inequality was top of mind for when she voted Tuesday.
“We really need to do something for the poor and disadvantaged communities,” said Sidereas, who moved from Greece to Chicago in 1973. “The wealth in this city needs to be spread out.”
Elisa Barrios, a 30-year Hyde Park resident, came to vote with her partner Dylan Lloyd. Lloyd attended Kozminski Community Academy as a kid, which let out its current students shortly after the couple voted Tuesday afternoon.
Barrios is from Michigan, but had relatives who lived under dictatorship in Peru, something that changed her view on voting and the political system at a young age.
When she was 15, she visited her uncle in Peru and walked past the parliament building when the boards were being taken off the doors. The two stood under a statue of Simón Bolívar while her uncle cried.
“It’s always stuck with me,” Barrios, 58, said. “I never miss a vote.”
Despite her experience, Barrios knows turnout for elections is low and blames it on a lack of change even when politicians are voted out.
“People feel they do not count because they don’t see a change no matter what happens,” Barrios said, adding that she usually tells people who feel that way the story of visiting her uncle. “People don’t realize the privilege they have.”
About an hour later, Hui and Holly Zhu, along with their 3-year-old shiba inu Happy, made the 10-minute walk to the polls at Kozminksi.
The couple have lived in the area for more than a decade, but six years ago were able to purchase a home. Since then, Hui says their property taxes have nearly doubled, making it a pertinent issue at the ballot box.
Holly, who came to the U.S. from China nearly 20 years ago, was focused on representing the immigrant community, specifically Asian immigrants, at the polls.
She said she knows of others who are afraid to go to the polls for various reasons, but a perceived language barrier is one of them — despite the fact she knows friends who have been able to get assistance from the city’s election board.
“They think their language is poor so they’re shy to speak out,” Holly said.
None of that stopped Holly, who said she felt a responsibility to vote.
“I feel the duty of a citizen,” Holly said. “It’s the least I can do.”
It’s a Chicago political tradition: campaigning at Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen.
The 80-year-old deli has a long political history. Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill there, President-elect Barack Obama stopped for his first post-election slice of pie, and Richard M. Daley ate a corned beef sandwich before beginning his record run as mayor.
On Tuesday, six of the nine mayoral candidates stopped by for lunch, hoping some of that history will rub off on them. Mayor Lori Lightfoot along with challengers Paul Vallas, Brandon Johnson, Sophia King, Kam Bucker and Roderick Sawyer all made appearances at the West Loop restaurant.
Some candidates took their food to go, while others stayed around and talked to patrons. Vallas bought food for a few diners. They were also joined by a small crowd of alderpeople, City Council hopefuls, union leaders and politicians.
The low turnout so far has been felt at many polling places.
Election worker Alwalee Abdulah, 50, said he’s seen very few people come in to vote at the Kelly Hall YMCA in Humboldt Park.
But when he talks with passersby, they’ve told him they already voted early or by mail, Abdulah said.
“It’s so important to get out and vote and make your voice heard,” Abdulah said.
Esteban Rodriguez was one of the few to stop by the YMCA in the 27th Ward Tuesday morning.
Rodriguez, a 65-year-old Army veteran and lifelong Chicago resident, says he came out to vote because he wants city resources to be equitably distributed.
“I’m sick of seeing taxpayer money spent not where it’s supposed to be,” Rodriguez said. “There needs to be more support for services and affordable housing.”
He currently lives in a shelter for veterans and he said many of the people there don’t have the ability to vote, mainly because they don’t have an up-to-date state ID.
“I know what it’s like to be homeless and to feel powerless,” Rodriguez said. “As someone who lives in a shelter, not many people vote or know how to go out and vote.”
Jerry Vance, 63, a building manager and paratransit driver, also is voting with the hope for more resources and services for the West Side, especially jobs and affordable housing.
He’d like the city to support more programs that fix up abandoned houses and employ young people in the neighborhood to do the construction.
“I want pride to return to the neighborhood and to see more financial resources provided,” said Vance, who has lived in Humboldt Park for 40 years. “I’ve been here so long that I remember when this used to be a beautiful neighborhood.”
His work as a driver takes him all over the city and he has seen how investments made into revitalization have improved other neighborhoods.
“I would love to see that happen here,” Vance said.
Voter turnout at polling places has been slow as of the early afternoon, said Max Bever, director of public information for the Chicago Board of Elections.
But that’s in part thanks to a historic amount of voters opting to either vote early in person or by mail, Bever said during a news conference providing a midday update on voting.
“Election Day turnout has been pretty sluggish compared to 2019, which was not great to begin with,” Bever said. “We are about 8,000 votes behind each hour, but that does seem to improve hour by hour and there is still plenty of time.”
Turnout Per Hour:— Chicago Board of Elections (@ChicagoElection) February 28, 2023
6:00am: 8,344 ballots cast
7:00am: 12,734 ballots cast
8:00am: 16,106 ballots cast
9:00am: 15,920 ballots cast
10:00am: 16,669 ballots cast
11:00am: 18,091 ballots cast
For both mail-in and early voting, the board has counted 112,000 ballots as of Monday night and 100,000 mail-in ballots are still outstanding.
“I know more eyes will continue to be on those remaining 100,000 vote-by-mail ballots to see both how they swing the citywide races, but especially the alderperson races ward by ward,” Bever said.
The Board doesn’t expect every outstanding ballot to arrive, Bever said, but based on previous metrics for voting by mail, 70,000 to 80,000 ballots will likely be sent in or delivered to a drop-off box on Tuesday.
Any vote-by-mail ballots received on Tuesday won’t be counted until Wednesday morning. Bever said the remainder should arrive in the next few days, and the Board has till March 14 to tally all the votes from mail-in ballots.
This election so far has been driven by older voters, Bever said. Overall, 37% of voters are age 65 and up.
Aside from the low turnout, things have been running smoothly at polling places, Bever said. Locations are fully staffed with election judges and only 14 polling places did not open right at 6 a.m.
James Bridges, a 22-year CPD veteran who retired last year, completed what he called his “civic duty” alongside his wife Maya at Wadsworth Elementary School — formerly a part of the 5th Ward now in the 20th Ward.
Bridges said he would’ve preferred more people drop out to rally behind stronger candidates, but ultimately it was good so many people felt comfortable enough to run.
Regardless of how many names were on the ballot, Bridges said he cast his ballot with the greater good in mind, though he hoped the candidate he knew personally — but didn’t name — would win.
“I vote my conscience and I vote my facts, I don’t necessarily always vote from my heart,” Bridges said. “I’m a team guy, I vote for what’s best for the city,” the Woodlawn resident of five years said.
As a former officer, Bridges knew the stakes behind those being elected for police district councils, and said he wants to see more community interaction from the police.
“Being a cop, (police district officials) are absolutely necessary,” Bridges said. “The people that are in line to do more of that and have a shared responsibility in the community are the people who make the most difference.”
Across the street from the school-turned-polling place, Darryl McConnell was waiting for a bus to work and ignoring people handing out fliers for candidates.
He’d already decided he wasn’t voting.
“I don’t know the people,” McConnell, a Stoney Island and Woodlawn native, said. “They’re always saying something. Black, white, doesn’t make a difference.”
McConnell said his brother died during the pandemic from COVID-19 and that he’d recently become houseless. To him, the politicians whose signs littered the parkway in front of his bus stop weren’t taking enough action to prevent the hardships he has been dealing with.
“The system’s alright, it’s just the people who run it,” McConnell said. “They ain’t got nothing for me… I gotta take care of myself. Life is fragile.”
Andre Hall, who has lived in Woodlawn for eight years, was also concerned about what politicians would actually commit to once the election was over.
Hall said his top issues were crime and housing, and that mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson’s platform had spoken to him the most, though he was still wary of all politicians.
“He’s saying he can do something, but who knows?” Hall, 64, said. “They all say that.”
Whatever the end results were, the lifelong Chicago resident said he hoped his vote could “make a change” because Chicago “ain’t what it used to be.”
In the new 34th Ward, Jonathan Burba, a West Loop resident, came out to vote because he’s worried about the crime impacting the city and his neighborhood.
Burba, a 38-year-old short-term rental property manager, moved to West Loop with his wife nine years ago.
“It was so safe here when we moved to West Loop. But I’ve felt a change in recent years, carjackings have been happening more and more,” Burba said.
“I’m worried about the safety of my family. I have a 22-month-old and I want it to be safe here.”
Burba spoke with Bill Conway, one of two candidates for 34th Ward alderperson, outside the Merit School of Music. He told Conway he’d like to see more funding for police and that more officers are needed in the city.
Greg and Keenan Hero, father and son, came out to vote together at the Merit School of Music.
“I really care about politics, and local elections are very important to push for change,” said Keenan Hero, 22.
Hero, who moved to the West Loop with his family last year, said he’s concerned about protecting LGBTQ rights and fighting climate change.
On the local level, Hero wants to see the city to provide more affordable housing rather than more high-rise luxury buildings.
Greg Hero, 66, also wants to see more support for Chicago’s vulnerable populations.
“There’s just too much hate, and I’m voting to try and make a difference,” Hero said.
Kenneth Degales, a 21st Ward resident and lifelong Chicagoan, showed up Tuesday morning at Mahalia Jackson Elementary School with donuts.
He said he was inspired by someone else in the community who started bringing refreshments to election workers, and in November, had promised he would too.
“I wanted to keep my promise and make sure that they’re fully awake, not falling asleep,” Degales said. “The donuts will hopefully help them to keep going.”
The school, which his grandchildren once attended, was along his morning route, as he still had to cast his vote. Degales said he likes to vote on Election Day to ensure he has enough time to study his ballot.
“It gives you a better outlook of who you’re voting for,” he said.
The 21st Ward originally had a field of 14 candidates for alderperson, though this was cut to seven by the time ballots were printed.
Ebony Holiday, who grew up in the 21st Ward and moved back 8 years ago, said she felt that many candidates in the crowded field didn’t really know the neighborhood.
“We have too many people on the ballot who just come out of the woodwork and haven’t really been in the communities,” Holiday, 41, said. “Nobody knocked on my door… I don’t even know who (they) are.”
Holiday said she voted for Daliah Goree, a police officer running in the 21st Ward, because she had been around the community as part of her job in law enforcement.
Holiday said she had done her research but was still shocked to see so many candidates on the ballot. She said she wants to see a shake up in the city’s government, specifically when it comes to resources for youth — such as the return of field houses and common spaces for kids — and the incarceration-reliant justice system.
“Research the people for yourself so we can have some change,” Holiday said. “To get different results you gotta do something different… We know Chicago has been doing the same thing.”
Hundreds of teens from about 60 Chicago public schools will serve as election judges and play a vital role in ensuring the polls are open.
High schoolers account for 13% of the city’s nearly 6,600 judges. The students are recruited and trained through a partnership between the Chicago Board of Elections and the Mikva Challenge, a local youth organization that develops young people to be informed and active citizens.
This year, nearly 900 students will serve as judges. About 1,100 high school students participated in the November midterms. Students report for duty at 5 a.m. and are paid $255.
Workers are responsible for opening and closing the polls, assisting voters, handing out paper ballots and more. They received in-person training this winter through the Chicago Board of Election for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harold Holt, a 56-year-old library assistant and lifelong Chicago resident, was at the polls by 8 a.m. to vote before work.
Holt said he was “ambivalent” about voting, though he cast his ballot to honor those who fought for the right to. “People died so that we can have the right to do this, so I’ll definitely be voting,” Holt said.
Like many voters, Holt’s top issue in the election is crime and public safety. He said he’s heard “lots of ideas,” but nothing he thinks is solid enough to make the change he wants to see.
“I still have yet to hear something definitive,” Holt said. “Nobody, including the current mayor, has said anything definitive, but change at this point can’t hurt.”
At the same 9th Ward polling place, Damascus Baptist Church, Tian Gatewood, another lifelong Chicago resident who has spent the last 20 years in Roseland, was also casting his ballot early.
Before voting for Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Gatewood said he didn’t think the mayor “did anything wrong” and he thinks the pandemic stunted what her administration was capable of.
“I don’t think she did anything wrong,” Gatewood, 46, said. “Give her ample time to go ahead and rectify some situations.”
Issues and candidates aside, Gatewood said voting was something “we should all practice,” adding that his family votes in every election — something he’s proud of.
“Some of us take it for granted,” Gatewood said. “If we don’t come out and try to change the politics and structures there’ll never be change.”
As of Monday night, 244,580 ballots had been cast through early voting, vote by mail and other means, nearly half the votes cast in the previous mayoral election in 2019, which had about a 36% turnout. This is only about 16% of total registered voters in Chicago.November’s general election saw a higher turnout — nearly 47% with more than 714,000 ballots being cast in the city, according to election board data — though 41,000 more voters were registered for the Feb. 28 municipal election.
“Don’t look for change if you’re sitting on your hands,” Gatewood said.
Voters head to the polls after months of pitches from eight candidates challenging the incumbency of Mayor Lori Lightfoot in what’s been a bitter campaign season dominated by racial politics and heated debates over the city’s crime problem.
- Will Lightfoot make the run-off: Lightfoot’s tenure has inspired a slew of candidates who have tried to convince voters she is unfit for the job as she fights to become the first woman mayor in Chicago’s history to win a second term.
- Highly engaged voters: More than 214,000 Chicago voters requested a vote-by-mail ballot this election cycle — more than in any previous Chicago municipal election. In-person early voting topped 100,000 for the second municipal election in a row.
- The price of running for mayor: More than $24 million has been poured into this mayoral race as donors from the business community, labor unions and candidates themselves have painted this election as a city at a crossroads.
- Candidates and voters prioritize crime issues: Crime and criminal justice reform have dominated the campaign trail. Homicides decreased in 2022, but the issue has still been top of mind for Chicagoans who experienced the city’s most violent year in a quarter century in 2021.
- Will history repeat itself: Four years ago, Lightfoot was a political outsider and first-time candidate who went on to sweep all 50 wards in the runoff election. She made history as the city’s first Black woman and openly gay mayor, but she faces stiff headwinds.
- Coalition building: Despite the display of racial politics in recent weeks, candidates have tried to convince voters they are capturing support from white, Black and Latino residents that each make up roughly a third of the city.
After months of campaigning and more than $24 million in spending, the decision on who will lead Chicago for the next four years is finally in the hands of voters.
An April 4 mayoral runoff is virtually guaranteed. A nine-candidate field is almost certain to prevent any one candidate from receiving more than 50% of the vote.
It’s even possible the two mayoral finalists won’t be known for a few days, as mail-in ballots are still being counted. The same is true for most, if not all, the hotly contested aldermanic races.
The high probability for delayed results stems from the number of mail-ballots.
Después de meses de campaña y más de $24 millones en gastos, la decisión sobre quién administrará la alcaldía Chicago durante los próximos cuatro años finalmente está en manos de los votantes.
Una segunda vuelta para la alcaldía el 4 de abril está prácticamente garantizada. Es casi seguro que un campo de nueve candidatos evitará que cualquier candidato reciba más del 50% de los votos.
Incluso es posible que los dos finalistas a la alcaldía no se conozcan durante algunos días, ya que todavía se están contando las boletas por correo. Lo mismo es cierto para la mayoría, si no es que para todas, las carreras de concejales bastante disputadas.
La alta probabilidad de tener resultados retrasados se deriva de la cantidad de boletas por correo.
After all of the campaign stops, forums, attack ads and candidate mailers flooding your mailbox, Chicago’s Election Day is here!
If you plan to hit the polls today or attend your favorite candidate’s watchparty tonight, you might just see one of our reporters on-site or our photographers snapping photos of the scene. It’s all part of our efforts at the Sun-Times to bring you vital, around-the-clock reporting on this year’s elections. We get to do this work and provide election coverage — free of a paywall — thanks to the commitments of our members. If you’re not yet a member, please consider becoming one today to help us serve our city.
For those who haven’t voted yet, don’t forget to check out our election resources. We’ve got a comprehensive guide to your ballot, a quiz you can take to find out which mayoral candidate aligns with your views, video interviews of mayoral candidates answering key questions on issues pertaining to Chicagoans and much more. Take advantage of our free resources here.