In addition to a few surprises on Election Day, Chicago will see the largest number of runoff elections in years.
On April 17, there will be a total of 12 runoff elections ( 11 involving incumbents ) held throughout the city. There were many tight races. Candidates had to 50 percent of the vote in the Feb. 27 elections to avoid a runoff in April, in which the two candidates with the most votes must go head-to-head once again.
Here is a rundown of the runoff elections:
Alderman Madeline Haithcock came behind challenger Bob Fioretti for an April 17 showdown. Fioretti received 28 percent of the vote to Haithcock's 21 percent.
Haithcock has held office since 1993, and is a former banker. Fioretti has spent his career as a civil rights lawyer. Both, in interviews with Windy City Times, expressed support for the LGBT community.
In a surprise to many, Alderman Dorothy Tillman will face a tough battle for re-election against Pat Dowell in this South Side ward. Tillman got roughly 43 percent of the vote, with Dowell trailing slightly behind at 38 percent. The runoff election will no doubt be a tight race.
Tillman has been on the city council for 23 years, and is known for her colorful hats and her controversial stances on human rights issues. Dowell is a supporter of organized labor, and is disappointed that Tillman voted against the Big Box ordinance.
This South Side ward had the highest number of candidates—topping off at 11—so it is no surprise a runoff will be held next month. The seat was up for grabs because Alderman Ted Thomas is retiring. The majority of candidates received a low number of votes, so it will be a showdown between attorney Felicia Simmons-Stovall and Toni Foulkes, a union activist and Jewel bakery employee.
On the South Side, Alderman Shirley Coleman, an ordained minister who focuses on crime and poverty issues, will face a runoff against challenger Joann Thompson, who supported the Big Box ordinance and has the backing or organized labor. ( Thompson got 41 percent of the vote while Coleman received 37 percent. )
Vote counts showed incumbent Lona Lane ( who was appointed to replace Tom Murphy by Mayor Daley in December ) just a hair under the magic 50 percent needed to defeat challenger Paul Stewart, who received 26 percent of the vote. Both have experience working for the city.
Alderman Howard Brookins, Jr., will face challenger Leroy Jones, Jr. Brookins pushed to have a Wal-Mart in his South Side ward and failed; therefore, unions backed Jones.
A long list of candidates spread around the vote enough to give Michael Chandler and Sharon Dixon too few votes to avoid a runoff in this Lawndale-area ward. Chandler wound up with 36 percent of the vote, while Dixon garnered 20 percent.
Despite the fact that there were only three candidates, incumbent Ted Matlak only received 47 percent of the vote—not enough to stave off a runoff with Scott Waguespack, who got 39 percent. One of the major issues for Matlak's challengers is what they perceive as an ongoing cycle of corruption in the alderman's office.
Incumbent Rey Colon will face former alderman Vilma Colom next month. A key issue for Colom is crime.
On the North Side ( in the Lincoln Park area ) , Alderman Vi Daley is headed for a runoff against Michele Smith. Smith is a former prosecutor and businesswoman. Daley has worked hard on streetscape and capital improvements in the area.
On the Far North Side, Alderman Joe Moore just missed the magic number—getting 49 percent of the vote—and will face challenger Don Gordon, who received roughly 29 percent.
During his campaign, Gordon has shown his support of gay rights and a willingness to listen to LGBT concerns in the ward. Moore, famous for his foie gras ban, faced three challengers upset by what they perceived as his poor handling of issues from crime to condos. Many felt that the longtime alderman hasn't done enough to improve the area, which is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Chicago.
Like Moore, Alderman Bernie Stone, who has served the area for 33 years, was just under the magic number in order to avoid a runoff against Naisy Dolar.
Stone, a long-time ally to the mayor, received 48 percent of the vote. In the late '80s, Stone ran as a Republican against Carol Moseley Braun. He has since returned to the Democratic Party.
Dolar, an advocate for multiculturalism and director of the city's Commission on Human Relations, received roughly 28 percent of the vote. Dolar is also noted for raising awareness of the city's Asian-American community.
In addition to a high number of runoff elections, there were a few surprises on Feb. 27, including the tight race between Alderman Helen Shiller and openly gay candidate James Cappleman ( 46th Ward ) . Shiller, a longtime LGBT ally, won 53 percent to 47 percent.
On the South Side, Sandi Jackson trumped appointed Alderman Darcel Beavers ( 7th Ward ) . The race, which was not even close, was a battle between two women from prominent Black political families. Jackson is the wife of Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.
The largest shock of election night was when longtime Alderman Burton Natarus, a staunch ally to the mayor, fell to Brendan Reilly ( 42nd Ward ) . Natarus had been on the city council longer than Reilly has been alive. Reilly is an AT&T executive, and has since voiced that he will support the mayor.