Ald. Smith, Vickrey head to runoff in 43rd Ward

Ald. Michele Smith speaks during a debate held at DePaul Student Center. (Megan Deppen / The DePaulia)
Ald. Michele Smith speaks during a debate held at DePaul Student Center. (Megan Deppen / The DePaulia)

After taking an early lead, Ald. Michele Smith of the 43rd Ward faces a runoff in April after receiving roughly 42 percent of the vote in a tight race. Her opponent, Caroline Vickrey, received roughly 36 percent of the vote.

A modest group of supporters and campaign members for Ald. Michele Smith weren’t disappointed as the final votes rolled in on Tuesday night. However, the team will get back to work preparing for a runoff election against Vickrey, after the 50 percent plus one needed to cement the Alderman position for the next four years was not reached by the incumbent. The other two candidates, Jen Kramer and Jerry Quandt, would receive 17 percent and six percent, respectively.

The runoff came as a bit of surprise to the small group of Smith supporters and team members at The Red Lion in Lincoln Park. A runoff was certainly a possibility, but they were confident coming in.

“We knew a runoff was a possibility, of course, but we weren’t expecting it,” said Lindsey Haghey, an attorney who worked the phones for Smith this morning. “We’re a solid group of folks with experience. We’ll learn from tonight, gear up for the runoff and hope for the best.”

Smith, who declined to fully comment on the campaign or the results, spoke to a small contingent of supporters, noting that “we are going to need each of you to take this runoff”.

Vickrey said she looks forward to April, though relaxation before planning for the runoff campaign is key.

“I am ecstatic, gratified and humbled,” Vickrey said. “I’m going to meet with my managers, regroup and create a new plan looking forward.”

Some of the major issues in the 43rd Ward include the development of the former Children’s Memorial site as well as education.

The new annex at the overcrowded Lincoln Park Elementary School executed by Smith and her team was something very important to the families with children in the neighborhood. The average age for families in Lincoln Park decreased steadily over the last six years, according to CBS Chicago.

However, Vickrey ran on the idea that Smith made poor development decisions behind closed doors, denying residents of the ward the right to question her actions and the way their tax dollars were being spent. Many who voted for her, and who were camped out at her headquarters on election night, also felt that her ideas for handling problems within CPS in the ward would bring about better structure than the measures Smith put in place.

“I was originally for Smith, I voted for her last time, but she didn’t make any changes,” Holly Karris, resident of the 43rd Ward, said. “I hope she (Vickrey) is honest, maintains an open door policy and honestly pleasant relationship with her constituents, which is something I didn’t get from Smith.”

The runoff election will take place April 7 and is expected to be another interesting race.