Mail-in ballots still a factor in some local NW Side committeeperson races
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman Jim Gardiner (45th), Chicago police sergeant Ammie Kessem and attorney Joe Cook are holding onto leads in their respective committeeperson races, according to unofficial election results, but a large swath of mail-in ballots have not been counted.
Due to pandemic concerns, there were a large number of mail-in ballots across Illinois, and some of those results may not be counted for several days. Mail-in ballots needed to be postmarked by March 17.
Alderman Jim Gardiner (45th) held onto the lead against Old Irving Park resident Ellen Hill in the race for the 45th Ward Democratic committeeperson seat. Hill was supported by current committeeperson and former alderman John Arena. Arena lost his aldermanic seat to Gardiner last year and chose not to run for re-election in 2020 for committeeperson.
With all of the precincts reporting, Gardiner received 4,805 votes, or 52.2 percent, and Hill received 4,396 votes, or 47.8 percent, of the votes cast. There was a report of a delay in results from the precincts whose polling location was at the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Hill has described herself as a progressive democrat, charging that Gardiner is not a strong advocate for affordable housing and is a “consistent” vote against city settlements in cases of police wrongdoing. Gardiner has said that the Democratic Party needs to focus on its working-class roots and that he learned about having a strong work ethic while growing up in a union household.
Meanwhile, Kessem is the winner of the 41st Ward Republican committeeperson race, defeating incumbent and former state Representative Michael McAuliffe. With all of the precincts reporting, Kessem received 1,054 votes, or 62.7 percent, and McAuliffe received 627 votes, or 37.3 percent, of the votes cast.
McAuliffe retired last year as the 20th Illinois House District representative but announced at the time he would be running to hold on to his committeeperson’s seat. Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens was appointed to McAuliffe’s former representative seat, and Stephens will face Chicago firefighter and democratic primary winner Michelle Darbro in the general election in November.
Kessem has praised McAuliffe’s legislative career but charged that he had non-aggression pacts with some area Democrats over the years and that he did little to recruit strong Republican candidates to run in local races. McAuliffe responded that he faced several tough democratic opponents over the years, including in 2016 in what has been described as the most expensive state legislative race in the country against Merry Marwig.
Also on the Northwest Side, Cook appeared to be the winner in the 41st Ward Democratic committeeperson race, defeating retired Chicago police officer Bill Kilroy. With all of the precincts reporting, Cook received 5,013 votes, or 55.5 percent, and Kilroy received 4,015 votes, or 44.5 percent, of the votes cast.
Cook was supported by current Committeeperson Tim Heneghan, who chose not to run for re-election. Kilroy was supported by Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st).