LINCOLN PARK — Ald. Timmy Knudsen declared victory in the hotly contested 43rd Ward runoff election.
With all precincts reporting Tuesday night, Knudsen held 52 percent of the vote to challenger Brian Comer’s 48 percent, an advantage of 529 votes, according to unofficial results.
There are 3,243 unreturned mail-in ballots in the 43rd Ward, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. Not all will necessarily translate into votes, as some may not have correct postmarks, some won’t have logged a vote for alderperson and some may not be returned for processing.
In his victory speech, Knudsen thanked his family, friends and campaign for their hard work over the last seven months.
“We left everything on the table and look where we landed,” Knudsen said. “I was beyond humbled to be appointed to this position as the first LGBTQ aldermen in the 43rd Ward and the youngest member of Chicago City Council.”
Knudsen was appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in September after Ald. Michele Smith abruptly retired. Smith supported Knudsen in the runoff after criticizing him in the Feb. 28 election for having ties to Lightfoot, who appointed him chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals before giving him the alderman’s office.
Smith was among five former alderpeople to support Knudsen, including former alds. Marty Oberman, Chuck Bernardini, Edwin Eisendrath and Bill Singer.
“I’m excited for this work and I vow that I will continue this work, working harder than we’ve done, representing our ward with respect, with stability and leading to the rest of the city as the 43rd Ward has always done,” Knudsen said Tuesday night.
Knudsen later told Block Club he plans to celebrate his victory with supporters and loved ones, and a meditation session Wednesday morning.
“Running for office is one of the most selfless things you could possibly do in your life. And it’s the people you’re with that really keep me going and I’m so grateful,” he said.
Looking ahead at his first full City Council term, Knudsen plans to continue focusing on public safety and work on policies focusing on environmental infrastructure like community composting and more electric vehicle charging accessibility.
He did not endorse Paul Vallas or Brandon Johnson for mayor, but said he looks forward to working with the winner, which was Johnson.
The ward includes Lincoln Park and Old Town.
Knudsen defended himself against a fierce challenge from Comer, the Sheffield Neighborhood Association president who was just 3 points behind Knudsen in the Feb. 28 election.
Comer tried to establish himself as a lifelong neighbor who’s built connections across the ward through his work as a neighborhood group leader, police beat facilitator and engaged resident. Knudsen has lived in Old Town and Lincoln Park for the last several years.
Comer often accused Knudsen’s campaign of using “poor tactics” to win the election, including sending a misleading poll about him, stealing campaign signs and making “childish” attacks on opponent Wendi Taylor Nations, who came in fourth Feb. 28.
Knudsen’s campaign traded barbs with Taylor Nations after she made social media posts referring to hike as “Tax-hike Timmy” and seemingly comparing him to Jason Voorhees of “Friday the 13th.” Knudsen responded by creating a website accusing her of being a cyberbully.
The two have since made amends, and Taylor Nations endorsed Knudsen in the runoff. So did Rebecca Janowitz, an attorney and alternative energy investor who put more than $750,000 of her own money into her campaign, and came in third.
Comer had been criticized for sharing false information about an officer-involved incident in Lincoln Park while on the campaign trail.
After a struggle between an officer and a man March 10, Comer posted a video that incorrectly stated the officer had been shot.
Comer insisted he made the video based on what people at the scene thought, which was that the officer had been shot, he said. He also filmed a follow-up video about a week after the incident clarifying that the officer had not been shot.
Knuden’s campaign used the clip to create an attack ad accusing Comer of “spreading fear, not facts.”
At 32, Knudsen is City Council’s youngest alderman. He’s also the first openly gay representative of the 43rd Ward.
Knudsen was a partner at Croke Fairchild Morgan & Beres before he was appointed alderman.
Knudsen also founded the pro-bono practice at his law firm, which represents LGBTQ asylum seekers in Chicago and Tijuana, Mexico. He’s given legal services to more than 40 asylum seekers through this work, he said.
Citing public safety as one of the top issues affecting Chicago, Knudsen’s first move as alderman was to reallocate his office’s menu dollars to fund more security cameras and license plate readers across the ward.
Knudsen also plans to work with the new 18th and 19th district police councils to bring more officers back to the area, he said.
Knudsen has highlighted “fiscal responsibility” as his No. 2 focus in the ward, emphasizing that he supported the city’s latest budget, which “invests in our priorities like public safety and makes an advance pension payment — all without a property tax increase.”
To improve constituent services, Knudsen has started implementing technology that he hopes will help his office respond to 311 calls more efficiently.
With several City Council members leaving office, Knudsen said he sees an opportunity to build coalitions with other freshman alderpeople to bring a new approach to solving the city’s problems.
“My goal is to work together with new-housers who want to be pragmatic and get things done,” Knudsen said. “It’s been fun to do that with the other appointees and bring in an approach that is truly fresh.”
The Knudsen family was overjoyed at his election night party.
“Timmy has wanted this since he was 6 years old,” said his mother, Terri Knudsen.
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