LOGAN SQUARE — Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) was able to avoid a runoff for his alderman seat after picking up more mail-in votes — but the ballots are still being counted, and election officials said they won’t call the race until next week.
La Spata had 50.09 percent of the vote on Wednesday, which would be enough to avoid a runoff with nearest challenger Sam Royko, who had 23.4 percent of the vote. In comparison, La Spata had 49.1 percent of the vote a week ago against Royko’s 24.1 percent.
Candidates had to get more than 50 percent of the vote in last week’s election to win the seat outright. If not, the top two routes from April 4.
As of Wednesday night, the 1st Ward had 1,664 unreturned mail-in ballots, down from 3,909 on March 2, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
Not all of those ballots were returned on time or postmarked correctly, but some will be counted, which could change vote totals, election board spokesman Max Bever said.
Election officials expect to “declare the race complete” on March 15, once counting has begun, Bever said.
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Chris Ridgeway, who handles communications for La Spata’s campaign, said they are watching the polls closely and feel “cautiously optimistic” La Spata will win outright.
“Ballots have consistently broken our way, but we will wait until every vote has been counted or we have been informed that the calculation is complete,” Ridgeway said. “In the meantime, we’re still planning community outreach and research for the upcoming runoff election, whether we finish the race then or now.”
Royko’s campaign said in a statement: “Votes are still being counted and every vote matters.”
RELATED: Ald. Daniel La Spata may be headed for a run-off against Sam Royko in a tight race in the first division
La Spata is running for his second term on the city council.
A former community organizer, La Spata has been a vocal advocate for affordable housing and cycling infrastructure, including protected bike lanes. He is a member of the Democratic Socialist Caucus and sits on several city council committees.
Royko is a West Town attorney and first-time political candidate who decided to run for public office after becoming more involved in community organizing around public safety. He is the son of the late columnist Mike Royko.
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