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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Will Ald. Daniel La Spata Face A Runoff In 1st Ward? It’s Too Close To Call With Mail-In Ballots Out

With all precincts reporting, La Spata is short of the majority of votes he needed to avoid a runoff with challenger Sam Royko, but mail-in ballots are still being counted.

1st Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata (left) has a plurality of votes as he seeks reelection but mail-in ballots will ultimately determine if challenger Sam Royko can force a runoff.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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LOGAN SQUARE — Ald. Daniel La Spata is poised for a runoff against challenger Sam Royko, but the race is still too close to call and has votes outstanding, officials said.

With all precincts reporting, La Spata had 49.1 percent of the vote Thursday to closest challenger Sam Royko’s 24.1 percent.

Those vote totals on their own would send La Spata and Royko to a runoff April 4, but they don’t give the full picture, elections officials said.

Chicago saw an explosion in mail-in ballots, and officials are still counting them. In the 1st Ward, there were 3,909 unreturned mail-in ballots as of Thursday afternoon, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

That doesn’t mean there are 3,909 ballots left to be counted because not all of those ballots were mailed back in time or postmarked correctly, said Max Bever, spokesperson for the city’s election board.

But there are “quite a few” outstanding ballots in the 1st Ward, and the final tally won’t come in until this weekend or closer to March 14, Bever said.

La Spata’s campaign is anxiously awaiting the final results, which could give the alderman the edge he needs to avoid a runoff.

RELATED: Ald. Daniel La Spata Could Be Headed For Runoff Against Sam Royko In Tight 1st Ward Race

But Royko hopes to meet La Spata in a runoff in April. His campaign is “still optimistic” the results will lead to a head-to-head matchup, a spokesperson.

Royko is a West Town lawyer and the son of late columnist Mike Royko. He formed the Greater West Town Community Coalition after his girlfriend was carjacked in 2021, which led him to launch his bid for public office.

Public safety has been the focus of Royko’s campaign. The political newcomer has pledged to boost police staffing levels and tackle the root causes of violence if elected.

La Spata is seeking his second term in City Council.

A former community organizer, La Spata has been a vocal proponent of affordable housing and bicycling infrastructure, including protected bike lanes. He’s a member of the Democratic Socialist Caucus and is on several City Council committees.

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