The battle for the 15th Ward aldermanic seat is set for a runoff between two Democrats, incumbent Raymond Lopez and challenger Rafael Yañez, according to BlockClubChicago.com.
This comes after Lopez finished the election just a tick shy of the required 50-percent margin to capture victory, the website said. Lopez is an ally of 14th Ward Alderman Edward Burke and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Yañez, a 15-year Chicago police officer, scored 22 percent of the precinct’s votes, making him the runner-up and de facto challenger in the runoff. Yañez has the backing of U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and public employee unions.
But a runoff is not a done deal, according to Lopez, who slammed his opponents for allegedly running “ugly campaigns,” according to his quote on the website. He claimed uncounted absentee ballots could still sway him over the majority mark.
The article also claimed Yañez said through his campaign manager that he was happy with the campaign because it focused on issues that resonated with voters.
According to a Feb. 10 report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Lopez said the ward’s high crime rate and declining population had put it lower on some politicians’ list of priorities. His runner-up challenged that characterization.
“The alderman is talking about generational gun violence, and I’m talking about generational disinvestment,” Yañez told the Sun-Times. “Since white flight, the resources fled along with the families.”
Yañez campaigned against Lopez’s support for a $95 million police training academy, arguing that schools needed the money instead.
Other winners of the Feb. 26 primaries include two African-American women vying for the mayor’s race. Despite the 14 mayoral contenders, the Sun-Times reported only about one-third of eligible voters cast ballots last Tuesday.
That low voter turnout may have caused the need for a runoff not only for the 15th Ward, but also for the mayoral race. Neither Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County’s board president, nor Lori Lightfoot, an ex-U.S. prosecutor, captured the majority.
The Sun-Times noted that nine other aldermanic races will be decided in runoffs, including those in the 40th, 46th, 16th, 33rd, 30th, 5th, 21st and 43rd wards.
Upset losses hit home for three aldermen: Proco “Joe” Moreno, 1st Ward; Joe Moore, 49th Ward; and John Arena, 45th Ward. Arena had backed an unpopular housing development in Jefferson Park, and Moreno was caught filing a false police report. Moore, whom the Sun-Times called the “third-longest tenured council member,” was defeated by a Chicago Teachers Union-backed progressive candidate.