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Rodriguez Sanchez calls on Mell to abandon recount: ‘We beat the machine’

33rd Ward candidate Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez shows her "I voted" sticker after voting on Election Day, April 2, 2019. File photo. | Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez swept out the Mell dynasty in the 33rd Ward by just 13 votes — making it one of the closest aldermanic races in years.

And Lori Lightfoot received the most votes in any mayoral race since Mayor Richard M. Daley won re-election in 1999.

That’s according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, which issued its official vote tally Thursday afternoon, a little over two weeks after the April 2 runoff.

Jim Allen, board spokesman, said the 33rd Ward aldermanic race was at least the “closest [race] in the last four municipal election cycles.”

Rodriguez Sanchez’s nail biter race against Ald. Deb Mell saw Rodriguez Sanchez’s lead ebb and flow over the course of the past two weeks as mail-in ballots were tallied. Thursday she said she’s “excited for what’s to come.”

“We got more votes, we beat the machine, and for the first time in 40 years, the 33rd Ward won’t be run by a Mell,” Rodriguez Sanchez said.

Mell is the daughter of former longtime 33rd Ward Ald. Dick Mell. When he announced his retirement in 2013, Deb Mell, a former state rep, took over. Deb Mell has previously said talk of her father was unfortunate and, “I’m my own person. I’ve been called daddy’s little girl, and I think that’s slightly misogynistic. I have my own record, and they can’t attack me on that so they attack me on this.”

Ald. Deb Mell (33rd) lines up for the first day of the filing period for Municipal Elections, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times
Ald. Deb Mell (33rd) lines up for the first day of the filing period for Municipal Elections, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Rodriguez Sanchez was part of the organization that supported Tim Meegan, who took on Mell in 2015 — Mell got 17 more votes then. Now, she’s taken steps to seek a recount.

Rodriguez Sanchez said that would be a “waste of time and resources.”

“It’s incredibly unlikely that there will be a different outcome,” Rodriguez Sanchez said. “We respected the result of the election [four years ago], and I think she should do the same. This is just going to delay things, but we’re ready for anything that comes our way.”

Mell didn’t return calls seeking comment, but Allen, election board spokesman, said he wouldn’t characterize the request for a recount that way since Mell has “legitimate questions about the outcome.”

In the mayoral race, Lightfoot received 73.7 percent of the vote or 386,039 votes — the most votes in any mayoral race since Mayor Richard M. Daley won re-election in 1999 with 71.9 percent of the vote, or 429,746 votes. The 1999 election was the last time a candidate cracked the 400,000 vote threshold.

Lori Lightfoot celebrates at her election night rally at the Hilton Chicago after defeating Toni Preckwinkle in a runoff on April 2.
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/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Sun-Times

In the North Side’s 46th Ward, Ald. James Cappleman eked out a victory over challenger Marianne Lalonde. In the end, 25 votes carried him to victory. In the South Side’s 5th Ward, 20-year incumbent Ald. Leslie Hairston staved off challenger and community activist William Calloway by a margin of 176 votes. Cappleman, Lalonde and Calloway have also taken the steps to get recounts in their races.

Lightfoot, as well as the aldermen, will be sworn in May 20.