Chicago Sun-Times


Three of those contests would involve incumbents appointed by Lightfoot over the last year


Mayor Lori Lightfoot had an undeniably bad night Tuesday, as she was unceremoni­ously dumped by voters.

Things were only marginally better for the four City Council members Lightfoot appointed over the last year. Three apparently were unable to tally more than 50% of the vote and are likely headed for twoperson runoff elections in April.

The fourth? She lost her seat outright.

Perhaps the most intriguing of those runoffs will be in the 11th Ward, which includes the Daley family stronghold of Bridgeport as well as Chinatown. Incumbent Ald. Nicole Lee, appointed not quite a year ago, garnered only about 30% of the votes in a field of seven — virtually the same as opponent Anthony Ciaravino, a Chicago police instructor.

Lee, the first Asian American woman on the Council, was appointed by Lightfoot in 2022 after Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, was convicted of tax crimes and had to resign.

While the Daley family’s political operation has publicly supported Lee, whose father was once a top Daley aide, some Ciaravino supporters have deep roots in the area and deep ties to the Daleys — with companies run by longtime Daley family pal Fred B. Barbara donating generously to Ciaravino’s campaign.

The union representi­ng rankand-file Chicago cops also donated to his campaign fund.

One political observer familiar with the dynamics there described the runoff as “a proxy fight between the old guard of the 11th and the new,” adding: “It’ll be a dog fight.”

Ald. Timmy Knudsen also appears headed to a runoff. Though he led with the most votes in a tough six-person race in the 43rd Ward, he fell significan­tly short of the threshold needed to avoid a runoff in a ward that includes the affluent Lincoln Park neighborho­od.

An attorney and former chairman of Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals, Knudsen was appointed by Lightfoot last year to replace Ald. Michele Smith, who announced her resignatio­n in July.

Tuesday, Knudsen secured about 27% of the vote, with Brian Comer, a renewable energy executive, coming in second at around 24%.

Lightfoot became a campaign issue, with Comer’s website saying she “is leading Chicago in the wrong direction” and “using her power through the aldermanic appointmen­t to control the 43rd.”

With several thousand mail-in ballots still unreturned, it’s possible two of the other six candidates might make the runoff. That should be more clear in the next few days, city officials say.

Monique Scott, appointed by Lightfoot in June to replace her brother as representa­tive of the West Side’s 24th Ward, seemed more firmly footed in a runoff.

She secured around 45% of the vote on election night, more than 2,000 votes higher than the next top vote-getter. About 650 unreturned mail-in ballots remain.

The fourth Lightfoot appointee, Ald. Anabel Abarca (12th), appears to have lost outright, based on unofficial tallies.

A former chief of staff to 12th Ward Ald. George Cardenas, Abarca was chosen in December to replace him when he stepped down to join the Cook County Board of Review.

Challenger Julia Ramirez, though, had 56.5% of the vote on Tuesday, leading Abarca by 725 votes. Around 700 mail-in ballots remain unreturned.

Asked if Lightfoot’s unpopulari­ty dragged down her candidacy, Abarca declined to comment Wednesday.

“I had nine weeks as an incumbent, and I’m proud of the campaign and the work that my staff has done and will finish doing,” Abarca said.

Those mail-in votes remain a wild card in other races, making it tough to get a firm count of runoffs and winners.

But based on the available informatio­n Wednesday, it appears there could be 14 or 15 runoffs.

Abarca appears to be the only incumbent who lost outright Tuesday.

But other incumbents — beyond Lightfoot’s appointees — are probably headed for runoffs and uncertain futures.

They include: 1st Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata; 36th Ward Ald. Gilbert Villegas; and 45th Ward Ald. James Gardiner. Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) garnered just over 50% of the vote on Tuesday — the threshold needed to avoid a runoff — but with hundreds of outstandin­g mailin ballots, he’s still on the bubble.

Other likely runoffs involving newcomers are in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 10th, 21st, 30th, 46th and 48th wards.

Villegas said he was forced into a runoff because the redistrict­ing process last year shifted the boundaries of much of his ward.

“It’s very simple: Over 50% of my ward is new . ... This was payback,” said Villegas, who was an outspoken critic of the redistrict­ing process.

Villegas was less than 200 votes short of surpassing the 50% he needs to avoid a runoff. And though the 1,800 unreturned mail-in ballots in the ward could change that, Villegas is preparing for the second round.

“As you can see, we were very close to avoiding a runoff. The reality is, given our message and our progressiv­e values, I feel good we’ll come out victorious April 4,” Villegas said.

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 ?? PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES ?? Ald. Timmy Knudsen
LEFT: Ald. Nicole Lee (11th) hands a piece of paper to an election judge while voting at Long Life Apartments in Chinatown on Tuesday.
PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES Ald. Timmy Knudsen LEFT: Ald. Nicole Lee (11th) hands a piece of paper to an election judge while voting at Long Life Apartments in Chinatown on Tuesday.
 ?? ASHLEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES FILE ?? Chicago City Council chambers
ASHLEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES FILE Chicago City Council chambers
 ?? ?? Ald. Monique Scott
Ald. Monique Scott
 ?? ?? Ald. Anabel Abarca
Ald. Anabel Abarca

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