Chicago City Council election results update: The runoffs and the undecided

Last Tuesday, Chicagoans cast ballots for mayor, city treasurer, city clerk, and all 50 seats on the city council. Here’s where the council races stood as of 11 am CT on March 4:
There will be at least 13 council runoff elections on April 2, as no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote in those wards. Nine of those races include incumbents heading to runoffs, and the other four are open races.
Runoffs will take place in:
  • Ward 5
  • Ward 16
  • Ward 20 (open)
  • Ward 21
  • Ward 25 (open)
  • Ward 30
  • Ward 31
  • Ward 33
  • Ward 39 (open)
  • Ward 40
  • Ward 43
  • Ward 46
  • Ward 47 (open)
Races in four of the above wards went to runoffs in both 2011 and 2015: the 16th, 20th, 43rd, and 46th.
There were 4 uncalled races in which incumbents were less than 1 percentage point above or below the threshold for avoiding a runoff. Whether incumbents win outright or head to runoffs will hinge on mail-in ballots. The Chicago elections board began the process of counting 13,843 additional ballots on Friday, The Daily Line reported. The board can continue counting mail-in ballots through March 12, so long as they were postmarked by election day (Feb. 26). Results will be certified March 13.
The uncalled races are:
  • Ward 6 (incumbent Roderick Sawyer)
  • Ward 12 (incumbent George Cardenas)
  • Ward 15 (incumbent Raymond Lopez)
  • Ward 26 (incumbent Roberto Maldonado)
On Tuesday, 3 incumbent aldermen lost their re-election bids:
  • 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno
  • 45th Ward Ald. John Arena
  • 49th Ward Ald. Joseph Moore
Chicago is the nation’s third-largest city by population. Each alderman represents one of the city’s 50 wards on the council. An average of 54,000 people live in each ward.

Houston school board election system would shift under new Texas Senate bill

The Houston Independent School District (ISD), the nation’s seventh-largest school district by student enrollment, may move to a different school board election system if a new bill introduced in the Texas State Senate is enacted into law.
The Houston ISD school board is currently composed of nine members who are all elected by separate geographic subdistricts. SB 1385, which was introduced by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R), would change four of the seats to at-large positions elected by the entirety of the school district’s voting population, which would leave the other five seats still elected by geographic subdistrict.
In a press release, Sen. Bettencourt stated, “Over the years, during testimony from HISD, I have heard that some trustees won’t help with schools on the ‘Improvements Required’ list that TEA maintains. Thus, allowing Kashmere High School to stay on the state closure list for nine years and counting! […] There has to be changes for the betterment of the students, parents, staff, and community. It’s not partisan. It’s not ideological. It’s not where you live, or what you look like, it’s about pure competence to lead the largest school district in the state.”
Bettencourt was first elected to the District 7 seat in the Texas State Senate in 2014, and he was re-elected in 2018 with 57.8 percent of the vote.
Houston ISD Board President Diana Dávila criticized SB 1385 in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. She said, “I’m bothered that he’s doing this, because he has not reached out to us to say, ‘What I can be doing legislatively to help the board?'”
Dávila, who was first elected to the District VIII seat on the school board in 2015, is up for re-election this year. Four seats are up for election in Houston ISD on November 5, 2019. These seats are in Districts II, III, IV, and VIII, and the filing deadline is August 19. The other five seats on the board are currently scheduled to be up for election next in 2021.
In 2019, Ballotpedia is covering school board elections in 179 of America’s school districts. There are 504 school board seats up for grabs across 23 states. Collectively, these districts served 5,764,930 students during the 2016-2017 school year—approximately 11.4 percent of all public school students in the U.S. Of those 179 districts, 64 are in Texas with 183 school board seats on the ballot this year. Those districts enrolled 2,387,738 students during the 2016-2017 school year; Houston ISD enrolled 216,106. Of the 64 Texas districts, 57 are holding their elections on May 4 and seven are holding their elections on November 5.

Eleven file to run for three Newark Board of Education seats

Eleven candidates filed paperwork to run in the April 16 general election for three of the nine at-large seats on the Newark Public Schools Board of Education in New Jersey. The filing deadline was February 25. The withdrawal deadline is March 4.
Two of the three incumbents whose seats are on the ballot—Leah Owens and Tave Padilla—are running for re-election. Incumbent Kim Gaddy did not file to run for another term on the board. All three incumbents were first elected to the board in 2016. They ran together as the Newark Unity slate and were endorsed by Mayor Ras J. Baraka. The eight consecutive elections prior to 2019 also saw members of slates endorsed by the mayor win election to the board.
Owens and Padilla face nine challengers: Shayvonne Anderson, Denise Cole, Denise Ann Crawford, Maggie Freeman, Priscilla Garces, Saafir Jenkins, Yolanda Johnson, A’Dorian Murray-Thomas, and Arlene Ramsey.
The 2019 election is the second since local control was returned to the district by the New Jersey State Board of Education on September 13, 2017. The state originally took over the district in 1995.
Newark Public Schools served 40,514 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

Candidate filing deadline coming soon in Riverside, California

The filing deadline for the Riverside City Council in California is March 8. The Ward 1, 3, 5, and 7 seats are on the ballot on June 4.
When city council elections were last held in 2017, the Ward 2, 4, and 6 seats were on the ballot. All three incumbents who held those seats ran for re-election, and two won new terms. In 2015, three of the four incumbents whose seats were on the ballot ran for re-election, and all three won new terms. Two of those incumbents were re-elected without facing opposition.
Riverside is the 12th-largest city in California and the 58th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Both candidates in Chicago Ward 47 runoff completed special citizen-generated survey

Matt Martin and Michael Negron, both candidates that advanced to a runoff in Chicago’s Ward 47 alderman race, completed Ballotpedia’s special Chicago candidate survey, which was developed with input from more than 100 Chicagoans.
Martin and Negron will face one another in a runoff election to serve as Ward 47 alderman on April 2 since neither earned a majority in their race on Tuesday when Chicago held elections for mayor, city clerk, city treasurer, and all 50 alderman positions.
Ballotpedia’s special Chicago candidate survey was developed in partnership with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Interactivity Foundation, and City Bureau.
Read their responses to one of our questions below:
Do you believe that there is corruption in Chicago politics, such as pay-to-play practices when the city awards bids? If so, how would you address it?
Matt Martin: “Recent news has confirmed that there is corruption in Chicago politics. Our city government badly needs reform. We must ban secondary employment to eliminate conflicts of interest that mired Alderman Ed Burke’s property tax firm. The City Council should not be immune to inspection, opening itself to audits and investigations by the Inspector General. There should also be term limits for Committee Chairs to ensure no one alderman is too powerful, such as the Finance and Zoning Committees that Aldermen Burke and Solis, respectively, oversaw. I also support reforming aldermanic prerogative so that individual aldermen do not have an inordinate amount of power over the developments that affect their constituents.”
Michael Negron: “The recent Alderman Ed Burke scandal epitomizes everything that people hate about Chicago government. If Ald. Ed Burke and Ald. Willie Cochran are convicted, then we will have seen 35 aldermen convicted of corruption-related crimes committed while on their official duties since 1972. That’s a conviction every 14 months!
We need to view this as an opportunity to make big reforms. We can’t simply rely on electing new people and hope for the best. We need to change the rules.
That’s why I support prohibiting aldermen from having side jobs so they focus on their jobs full time. We need to limit aldermanic privilege when it comes to zoning and permits to remove the temptation to shake people down. I support expanding the authority of the inspector general over the City Council, and establishing the public financing of elections. We should also strengthen independent budget office, and take a real look at term limits.”
Two candidates in the Ward 47 race who did not advance to the runoff election, Jeff Jenkins and Angie Maloney, also completed the survey. Five other candidates who did not complete the survey also ran unsuccessfully in the race.
The Ward 47 race is one of five Chicago alderman elections in 2019 without an incumbent competing, making it an open-seat contest. Of the other four open-seat alderman races, only the Ward 22 race was decided outright in the general election. Nicole Johnson in Ward 20 and Byron Sigcho-Lopez in Ward 25, who are both candidates in open-seat races, each completed the survey and advanced to the runoff election. Their opponents, Jeanette Taylor in Ward 20 and Alex Acevedo in Ward 25, have not yet completed the survey.
Ballotpedia is contacting all Chicago candidates competing in the April 2 runoff to encourage them to fill out the survey in order to share their views with voters.

Jumaane Williams wins New York City public advocate election

Jumaane Williams, a New York City councilman representing parts of Brooklyn, won the New York City public advocate special election on February 26. He defeated 16 other candidates in the nonpartisan election, receiving about 33 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns.
He will be the city’s fifth elected public advocate. The previous public advocate, Letitia James, was elected attorney general of New York in November 2018. Corey Johnson, who did not run in yesterday’s special election, has served as the acting public advocate since January 1, 2019.
The public advocate is first in the mayoral line of succession and acts as a watchdog and ombudsman for the public. He or she may sit in on meetings of the City Council and introduce legislation but may not vote on any measures. Although the position has little direct power, it is seen as a launching pad for higher office.
Of the four previously elected public advocates, two have advanced to higher office following their tenure: James and Bill de Blasio, who became mayor of New York City in 2014.
Yesterday’s election means that Williams will serve in the office until December 31, 2019. A second election will be held later this year for the remainder of James’ four-year term which ends in 2021.

Trial begins for a Sedgwick County commissioner

The fraud trial for Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell (R) began on Monday in a federal court in Wichita, Kansas. The trial is expected to last five days.
O’Donnell is accused of taking $10,500 from campaign funds for his personal use. In May 2018, O’Donnell was indicted by a federal grand jury on 23 counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. The indictment alleges that in 2015 and 2016, O’Donnell wrote checks from his campaign account to three of his friends who cashed the checks. Prosecutors allege that O’Donnell’s friends did little or no work on his campaign and that some of the money from the cashed checks went into O’Donnell’s personal checking account.
O’Donnell has served on the Sedgwick County Commission since 2017. His term expires in 2020. Prior to his election to the county commission, he served in the Kansas State Senate from 2013 to 2017 and on the Wichita City Council from 2011 to 2013.

Chicago elections on Tuesday: Third-largest city votes for mayor, city council and more

On Tuesday, Chicago voters will cast ballots for mayor, city treasurer, city clerk, and all 50 seats on the city council. Any race in which no candidate receives a majority of the vote will go to a runoff on April 2. The elections are nonpartisan.
Fourteen candidates are running for mayor. Incumbent Rahm Emanuel announced in September 2018 that he would not seek re-election, leaving the race open. In recent polls, no candidate received more than 15 percent support, and undecided voters made up the plurality.
In the city council races, 45 incumbents are seeking re-election. All but five are facing challengers on Tuesday.
Three candidates are running in the open city treasurer race. Incumbent city clerk Anna Valencia is unopposed in the clerk election.
A number of issues have shaped the elections in the nation’s third-largest city, including the city’s pension system shortfalls, crime rates, policies around K-12 school performance and under-enrollment, economic and racial divisions, policing, affordable housing, and government ethics.
Subscribe to The Deep Dish, Ballotpedia’s weekly Chicago elections newsletter, and get our post-election results edition delivered to your inbox on Wednesday.
Additional reading:

4th Ward city council candidates respond to Ballotpedia’s Chicago 2019 candidate survey

Incumbent Sophia King faces Ebony Lucas in the election for the 4th Ward seat on Chicago’s City Council Tuesday. Both King and Lucas filled out Ballotpedia’s Chicago 2019 candidate survey, which was developed with input from more than 100 Chicagoans in the months preceding the 2019 election.
King was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2016 to fill a vacancy. In 2017, King won a special election against Lucas and three other challengers to hold the seat.
Read their responses to one of our questions below:
What are your proposals for supporting children before and after school? What would be your ideal afterschool programs?
Sophia King: “A strong viable neighborhood school would have a strong co-curricular (after school) component that would help keep students engaged in positive activities and curtail negative behavior. We need more co-curricular programs that engage our children and keep them off the streets.”
Ebony Lucas: “Children need exposure to the world around them so that they can determine their strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Before and after school programs at the libraries, zoo, museums, park district, union apprenticeships, and other community based organizations need to be funded in every neighborhood. …The 4th ward aldermanic office will have computers for youth to come in and apply for One Summer Chicago and After School Matters to increase their opportunities for success.”
Chicago voters will cast ballots for mayor, city council, city treasurer, and city clerk on Tuesday, with runoffs scheduled for April 2.
Candidates can let voters know where they stand on major issues by filling out our survey.
Voters can also see which candidates have filled out our survey. Want answers from a candidate who hasn’t? Click their name to be taken to their profile page, where you’ll see an option to contact them and request that they fill out the survey.

One-third of Dallas school board up for grabs in May

Three of nine seats on the Dallas Independent School District school board in Texas are on the ballot this year, and none of the three incumbents are seeking re-election. The general election is on May 4. If no candidates receive a majority of the vote in the election, the top two vote recipients will advance to a runoff scheduled for June 8. A total of nine candidates filed for the three seats.
The former District 4 incumbent, Jaime Resendez, recently resigned, and the school board will appoint someone to the seat to serve until the May election. Four candidates filed for District 4: Karla Garcia, Omar Jimenez, Amalia Lozano, and Camile White. First elected in 2001, District 5 incumbent Lew Blackburn is not seeking re-election. Blackburn is the longest currently serving member of the Dallas ISD school board. Candidates Ola Allen, Maxie Johnson, and David King filed for his seat on the board. In District 7, single-term board member Audrey Pinkerton is also not running for re-election. She stated her new career would not allow her to fulfill the position’s requirements. Two candidates, Ben Mackey and Brent McDougal, filed for the seat.
This election cycle marks the first time in over five years that no incumbents filed for re-election in the district. Between 2014 and 2018, at least one incumbent filed for another term each year; in 2017 and 2018, 100 percent of incumbents sought re-election. In that same time frame, an average of 2.0 and 3.0 candidates per seat were on the ballot, respectively. The 2019 election follows that trend with an average of 3.0 candidates running per seat. In four of the five most recent election cycles, one seat advanced to a runoff from the general election each year. Only during the 2015 election—in which exactly two candidates competed in each race—was no runoff held.
Dallas ISD enrolled 157,886 students during the 2016-2017 school year.