It was a frantic night Tuesday, with fourteen aldermanic seats up for grabs in the runoff election. Races around the city were incredibly close, and with voter turnout at a measly 27 percent, every single ballot was critical. On Wednesday morning, some races are still too close to call. (Click here for the election live-blog.)
The ultimate takeaway, though, is clear: Chicago wanted a change.
Eight new aldermen were elected last night, including four who vanquished sitting incumbents. Added to the five new faces elected in February, that makes thirteen of the 50 City Council members who will be new to their jobs in May; five more aldermen were appointed by Mayor Daley in the last two years. In all, more than one in three aldermen will be serving their first full term starting this year.
One incumbent who fell last night was 37-year veteran Berny Stone in the 50th Ward. His opponent, Debra Silverstein, was backed by the Democratic ward organization, Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel, and a number of unions and business interests. After winning every council election since 1973, Stone scored only 38 percent of the vote in Tuesday's runoff.
"It would appear that this will be my last term," a teary-eyed but ever-caustic Stone said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "It's been a good run. I will be satisfied with what I've done to help the people in the 50th Ward, and I feel sorry for them from this point on, but I wish them well."
6th Ward Alderman Freddrenna Lyle also fell, losing to Roderick Sawyer, the son of former mayor Eugene. In the 24th Ward, Sharon Denise Dixon lost her seat to the man she took it from in 2007, Michael Chandler. And in the 36th, traditionally a bastion of machine Democratic power, unknown Nicholas Sposato ousted Alderman John Rice, a man with deep connections to the ward's big power players.
Other new aldermen include James Cappleman in the 46th, who will become the second openly gay man on the City Council, along with Alderman Tom Tunney; Mary O'Connor, who beat Republican Maurita Gavin for the seat long held by the Council's lone Republican, Brian Doherty; and Michele Smith, who holds a narrow lead over Tim Egan in Lincoln Park's 43rd Ward.
An eighth new alderman will be elected in the 45th Ward, but that race is still too close to call. John Arena leads John Garrido by a margin of 29 votes there, with more than 12,000 votes cast in the race.
Six incumbents kept their jobs last night. Alderman Danny Solis eked out a victory over Cuahutemoc Morfin, who, in his concession, claimed victory in forcing the Alderman to change his position on environmental regulation of the 25th Ward's polluters. And Willie Cochran in the 20th Ward appears to have vanquished rapper-turned-candidate Che "Rhymefest" Smith, although Smith is not yet conceding, claiming massive voter fraud.
Aldermen Latasha Thomas, Tim Cullerton, JoAnn Thompson and Toni Foulkes all won as well, the last three by quite convincing margins.
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