Ald. Hairston re-elected after long runoff race

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Alderman Leslie Hairston

Crusader Staff Report

Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) was re-elected to a 6th term this week after a long runoff election that ended two weeks after her April 2 runoff against activist William Calloway.

In a bitter race that came down to over 840 mail-in ballots, Hairston won by just 176 votes as she became the last candidate to declare a win in a runoff election that involved 17 candidates, including the race for mayor and city treasurer.

The final results had Hairston with 6,849 votes to Calloway’s 6,673.

By law, the Chicago Board of Elections is required to count all mail-in ballots that are postmarked by the election date. The board received some 846 ballots after the April 2 runoff election had ended.

Chicago Board of Elections spokes-person Jim Allen was scheduled to make an announcement on Thursday, one day after the Crusader went to press with this story. He confirmed to the Crusader that the final results of the race were posted on the agency’s website Wednesday.

The race was Hairston’s toughest election in her 20 years as alderman. She accused her opponent of being a deadbeat Chicago resident who owed thousands of dollars in parking and traffic tickets. Calloway was also accused of making homophobic statements in 2015 after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.

Calloway accused Hairston of trying to win votes by reversing her position on a community benefits agreement with the Obama Presidential Center and Library and the $95 million police academy on the West Side.

Days before the runoff, the Crusader published a story that said Hairston took over $30,000 from two big groups that opposed rent control, a big issue in her ward as concerns of gentrification spread in anticipation of the Obama Presidential Center and Library in Jackson Park in South Shore.

Calloway reportedly is demanding a recount of the votes, claiming numerous mail-in ballots received before the April 2 deadline were improperly excluded from the final count.

Calloway also alleged that some 5th Ward voters at polling places shared with 6th Ward precincts were given the wrong ballot “through mistake or fraud.”

The new City Council is slated to take office on May 20.

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