LOGAN SQUARE — Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) has emerged victorious in the tight 1st Ward race, pulling in just enough votes to avoid a runoff with challenger Sam Royko.
With all ballots counted, La Spata held 50.11 percent of the vote, just enough to win outright, according to final, unofficial results released Tuesday night. His closest challenger, Sam Royko, secured 23.4 percent of the vote.
La Spata won 7,339 votes to Royko’s 3,432, according to the unofficial elections board results. They’re expected to be certified when the elections board’s commissioners meet Wednesday afternoon.
Candidate Stephen “Andy” Schneider came in third with 19.6 percent. Former 1st Ward Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno was in fourth with 6.8 percent.
It appeared La Spata was headed for a runoff against Royko after last month’s election. Candidates had to win more than 50 percent to dodge a runoff. But mail-in and provisional ballots went in La Spata’s favor, giving him the edge he needed to claim victory.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve the 1st Ward for four more years and profoundly humbled by the sacrifices so many made to get me here,” La Spata said in a news release.
La Spata was elected in 2019 as part of the Democratic Socialist wave in City Council.
As alderperson, La Spata has been a vocal proponent of affordable housing, anti-gentrification measures and bicycling infrastructure, including protected bike lanes.
In January, La Spata said he’s helped small businesses apply for city grants and developers have incorporated dozens of affordable units into their projects under his leadership. On public safety, he said he’s advocated for more police along with wrap-around services and alternate crisis response teams.
La Spata faced two attacks during campaign season. A man threw a drink at him in October as he was biking through West Town with supporters. And two people smashed the windows of La Spata’s campaign headquarters in Logan Square in February, leading to a police investigation. La Spata said he believes it was “political retribution.”
Without explicitly mentioning the incidents, La Spata told supporters on election night that “hate, anger, malice and noise” hung over the campaign.
Royko is a West Town attorney and the son of late columnist Mike Royko. He decided to get more involved in the community and eventually launch a bid for office after his girlfriend was carjacked in 2021.
Public safety has been the focus of Royko’s campaign. Royko previously said if elected he’d use aldermanic menu funds to boost police in the ward while funneling money to intervention programs, a “twofold” approach meant to increase public safety and address the root causes of crime.
Royko conceded in a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon.
“I want to commend Alderman La Spata for a hard-fought race, it was decided by a handful of votes — a reminder that every vote matters,” he wrote.
Royko wrote he will continue “to give greater voice to people across the 1st Ward and neighboring communities” through his community group, the Greater West Town Community Coalition.
“While this was not the outcome we hoped for, everyone should be immensely proud of the work we put in. We put our heart and soul into this campaign,” he wrote in thanking his supporters.
La Spata received endorsements from state Rep. Will Guzzardi, United Working Families, the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Chicago Teachers Union, while Royko is backed by Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley and the Italian American Political Coalition, among others.
The 1st Ward stretches from the eastern portion of Logan Square down through most of Wicker Park, parts of East Humboldt Park and portions of West Town.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.
Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.
Listen to “The Ballot: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: