Michael Chandler, a three-term alderman who lost his seat to a political newcomer in 2007, will again represent the 24th Ward after winning Tuesday’s run-off election against incumbent Sharon Dixon.
Chandler received more than 60 percent of the vote (3,273) to incumbent Dixon’s 40 percent (2,139), according to preliminary results from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
“It’s a huge victory for the people of the 24th Ward,” Chandler said.
Dixon lost despite the last-minute backing of Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, according to the Chicago News Cooperative, who reported that Emanuel paid for a recent mailing for Dixon at the request of Secretary of State Jesse White.
“I said congratulations to the new alderman, and I look forward to working with him,” Dixon told the CNC. “We put up a good fight here.”
The run-off was necessary because no candidate won a majority of votes in the first-round Feb. 22 race. Chandler and Dixon were the top two of 18 candidates running.
While not technically a new face, Chandler will be part of a huge turnover facing the Chicago City Council. More than one-third of the 50 aldermen, along with Emanuel, will be new to their positions when they’re sworn in May 16-the highest turnover rate since the 1970s.
Chandler won by 1,134 votes-a significantly higher mandate than the run-off four years ago, when Dixon squeaked past the then-incumbent by just 192 votes.
But with about 5,400 of the ward’s more than 30,000 registered voters actually casting a vote Tuesday, the vibe at the polls was more of apathy than landslide. It was eerily quiet much of the day in the halls and the streets outside the Clark Park dance hall, 4615 W. Jackson, the polling place for the 29th precinct.
Just 55 voters had walked through the doors by about 4:30 p.m., roughly a third the turnout that participated in February’s election, estimated election judge Edward Ratcliff.
“Bored to death,” Ratcliff said, describing his day at the polls, which were open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. A similar scene played out at nearby Michele Clark School, 5101 W. Harrison, where the 16th and 46th precincts cast ballots.
Six Chandler campaign workers were outside the school, postcards in hand, but as of 5 p.m., there was not one voter, or a Dixon campaigner, in sight. One voter finally did appear: Joseph Goodrich, a 61-year-old retired postal worker who said he voted for Dixon because he saw little change during 12 years of Chandler’s leadership.
“Three terms? Uh-uh. Three terms is OK if you produce,” he said.
Chandler campaigned on promises to improve city services, prioritize job training, and make TIF grants of up to $50,000 available for existing businesses and start-ups if they hire workers from the community.