ALBANY PARK — After falling just 13 votes short of re-election, Ald. Deb Mell (33rd) announced Wednesday she wants a partial recount that could trigger a full recount.
“The Board of Elections shows that I am 13 votes down with 11,495 votes cast. In many municipalities, in an election this close, a recount would be automatically triggered,” Mell said, in a tweet Wednesday. “I’ll be asking for a discovery recount that will conclude next week. I owe it to my supporters and staff.”
The 33rd Ward contest has been the closest race of the year, with Democratic Socialist Rossana Rodríguez-Sánchez declaring her win Tuesday night over Ald. Deb Mell.
Mell has had close calls before. In 2015, she narrowly defended her City Council seat against challenger Tim Meegan by just 17 votes.
Chris Poulos, Rodríguez-Sánchez’s campaign director, was on the other side of that race, working for Meegan. Ultimately, Meegan didn’t call for a recount.
“Being on the other end of this in 2015, when Meegan’s campaign was 17 votes behind, we had to make the decision of are we going to go through with a recount or not,” he said.
It’s still a choice for Mell, she can still dismiss her call for a recount if she chooses, he said.
In 2015, experts the Meegan campaign consulted — including attorney Richard Means and donors — all gave that campaign the same advice: A recount was unlikely to change the vote outcome because the Chicago Board of Elections does everything “above board,” he said.
This year, Poulos said he and the campaign’s field director were at the Chicago Board of Elections practically every day since the April 2 runoff, watching as the ballots were counted.
“What you’re kind of doing with a recount is just spending all this time and resources and getting your supporters’ hopes up,” Poulos said. “In 2015, with Meegan, we had to make the calculation it was a reckless move and not a good use of resources. It’s also unfair to ward residents who made a decision in this election.”
Before Mell’s call for a recount, Rodríguez-Sánchez scheduled a victory party for 7 p.m. Thursday at Surge Billiards, 3241 W. Montrose Ave.
It’s still on, Poulos said.
The runoff election was held April 2, but the results were so tight — Rodríguez-Sánchez led that night by just 64 votes — no one could declare victory or concede defeat until mail-in ballots were counted.
The final weeks of counting amounted to overtime of a two-round battle that started with the Feb. 26 election. With three candidates in that race, no one got the more than 50 percent needed to win outright.
Rodríguez-Sánchez and Mell both got about 41 percent of the vote, forcing the April 2 runoff.
“Every door knocked. Every vote counted. On Thursday, the results of our race will be certified and Rossana Rodriguez will be the next alderman of the 33rd ward,” according to a post by her campaign. “This was an incredibly close race, and every last one of us played a part in this historic victory. We built it together, and now it’s time to celebrate together!”
Rodríguez-Sánchez aimed to make history as the ward’s first Latinx alderman and be the fifth Democratic Socialist elected to City Council this year.
Mell, the daughter of political powerhouse and former Ald. Dick Mell, has presided over the diverse 33rd Ward since 2013. She was appointed to replace her father in 2013, who had held the seat since 1975.
Mell was the first openly gay woman to serve on the Chicago City Council. She is also the sister-in-law of disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The 33rd Ward covers parts of Ravenswood Manor, Avondale, Albany Park and Irving Park.
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