Given another abysmally low voter turnout, there really weren’t many surprises last night. So, let’s get started:
The fact that Lori Lightfoot won surprised no one, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any Second City mayoral contender prevail by three-to-one margin over a real opponent. That was beyond shocking. As a Facebook friend said last night, “Call the Chicago Police, there’s been a murder.”
Toni Preckwinkle’s campaign inexplicably turned to some of the most bizarre forms of mud-slinging I’ve ever seen which certainly didn’t help, but in the end, this race turned in to a forum on Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx fumbling the Jussie Smollett case.
So, Chicago! You just elected your first former federal prosecutor and openly gay black female mayor! She’s also the first non-Chicago born mayor since Anton Cermak. Though, considering the current state of The City That Ain’t Quite Working, you can’t help but wonder if Preckwinkle is the real winner here.
And speaking of Toni, given this kind of trouncing, I think her political career is over. She may be able hang onto the Cook County Democratic Chairmanship, but she’ll be hard pressed to retain the County Board presidency.
Could Chicago really be ready for reform?
2. U-46 School District
Proving, once again, that conservatives can’t govern, extreme right-wing incumbent Jeannette Ward and her similarly ideological school board slate went down in flames. And that’s really something when you consider that lighter turnouts tend to favor conservative candidates.
Unable to catch on anywhere else, Ward used her board seat to press a stilted agenda that never worked with U-46 voters and they just let her know that in no uncertain terms. True to herself till the end, Ward thanked “The Lord Jesus” for allowing her to serve on the school board.
But ain’t it funny how they never blame God for an election loss!
That said, my fondest wish is for the new board to dismiss any talk of a mandate and to show a willingness to ask the tough questions when the issue demands it. A school district the size of U-46 is always a difficult proposition.
3. Elgin Mayor and City Council
I couldn’t think of a reason not to reelect Mayor Dave Kaptain and the voters echoed that sentiment in a massive two-to-one victory. While I certainly like City Councilman Carol Rauschenberger, I still can’t figure out why she decided to run.
Meanwhile, to absolutely no one’s surprise, on the City Council side, John Steffen, Toby Shaw, Rose Martinez, and sadly, Tish Powell easily defended their seats. With Elgin generally firing on all cylinders, none of the challengers could come up with a compelling message.
Baldemar Lopez basically bought the two-year seat, but when you consider he barely beat an underfunded Steve Thoren, it ain’t any kind of mandate.
Lopez, who doesn’t play well with others, will turn out to be an ineffective councilman who simply see’s this “victory” as a stepping stone to Springfield.
There were certainly no surprises here as those incumbents also retained their city council seats. And just as The First Ward predicted, 6th Ward Alderman Mike Saville destroyed his three opponents by a combined two-to-one margin.
Much like the late Naperville Mayor George Pradel was utterly unbeatable, Saville will be an Aurora alderman for as long as he wants to serve.
Thought I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him, perennial candidate Matt Harrington keeps racking up the kind of huge losses that will make it impossible for him to win anything.
But perhaps all is not lost because also-ran Mavis Bates finally won an election! She will be the new at-large Fox Valley Park District Commissioner. I don’t remember the last time a park district candidate deployed those much more expensive 4 by 4 signs, but perhaps they did the trick!
I just don’t get it! I’ve listened to my fellow Genevans rant and rave about the scurrilous tax and spend Springfield Democrats for years, and then they go out and send two union-backed candidates to the school board. It’s essentially a vote to raise your taxes.
On the city council side, despite the fact that 5th Ward Alderman Craig Maladra didn’t noticeably campaign, he handily dispatched challenger Tom Simonian who still can’t figure out how to run a political campaign.
I’d like to think that Tom has finally been put out of our collective misery, but I’d be willing to bet he runs for mayor again in 2021.
6. Sugar Grove
In the only other surprise of the night, two – count ‘em – two Sugar Grove write in candidates appear to have won their Trustee races. Wow! I’ve only seen one write-in candidate win a contested race and that was only after I wrote about him.
But two write-ins receiving more than 500 votes a piece? I never thought I’d see that day!
7. Waubonsee Community College
No surprises here, but it was fascinating to watch two former high-profile candidates run for trustee.
Willie Mayes Sr., who came out on the short end of the stick, ran for Sheriff in 2014 and 2018, while Rick Guzman, who came within inches of winning the Aurora mayoral race, will serve on that board.
With the exception of Huntley library bonds, it was not a good night for any entity asking for:
- More money
- A higher retail tax rate
- A higher limiting rate
Or anything of the kind.
Among those losers was, you guessed it the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District who were denied a tax extension limitation. At this point, that group couldn’t pass a referendum promising to mow residents’ lawn for the entire summer.
It’s time for the state to finally step in, disband this ill-conceived district, and let it be absorbed by their far more solvent neighbors.
Other than saying shame on you for not voting and go out and pick up your signs, that’s it for 2019 folks!