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Ald. Daniel La Spata Gains Ground With Mail-In Ballots, Could Avoid Runoff With Sam Royko

La Spata was close to a razor-thin majority of the vote Wednesday as more mail-in ballots were counted, but officials said they won't call the race until next week.

Ald. Daniel La Spata (right) and his closest challenger Sam Royko.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago; Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
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LOGAN SQUARE — Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) could avoid a runoff for his aldermanic seat after picking up more mail-in votes — but ballots are still being tallied, and elections officials said they won’t call the race until next week.

La Spata had 50.09 percent of the vote Wednesday, which would be enough to dodge a runoff with closest challenger Sam Royko, who held 23.4 percent of the vote. For comparison, La Spata had 49.1 percent of the vote a week ago to Royko’s 24.1 percent.

Candidates needed to get more than 50 percent of the vote in last week’s election to win the seat outright. If not, the top two square off April 4.

As of Wednesday evening, the 1st Ward had 1,664 unreturned mail-in ballots, down from 3,909 on March 2, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Not all of those ballots were mailed back in time or postmarked correctly, but some will be counted, which could alter vote totals, said election board spokesperson Max Bever.

Elections officials expect to “declare the race complete” March 15, when counting has commenced, Bever said.

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

Chris Ridgeway, who does communications for La Spata’s campaign, said they’re watching the vote tallies closely and feel “cautiously optimistic” La Spata will win outright.

“Mail-in ballots have consistently broke our way, but we’ll wait until every vote is counted or we’ve been advised that the math is complete,” Ridgeway said. “In the meantime, we’re still planning community outreach and canvasses for the upcoming runoff election, whether we finish the race then or now.”

Royko’s campaign said in a statement, “Votes are still being counted, and every voice matters.”

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

La Spata is running for 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.

Royko is a West Town attorney and a first-time political candidate who decided to run for public office after getting more involved in community organizing around public safety. He is the son of late columnist Mike Royko.

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