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The Mechanics
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Aldermen Tue Feb 10 2015

What Happens in the 16th Ward Election After Thompson's Passing?

JoAnn Thompson, Chicago 16th Ward AldermanAld. JoAnn Thompson (16th) died Tuesday morning from complications from a heart-related ailment and attendant surgery. The Sun-Times article speaks to Thompson's background, overcoming homelessness and alcoholism to become one of Chicago's most surprising aldermen.

Thompson had been locked in a difficult reelection campaign, most notably with Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th). Foulkes was drawn out of her district by the last redistricting, leading to a rare situation where two incumbents were challenging one another.

Because early voting has already begun and ballots have already been printed, Thompson's name will still be on the Feb. 24 ballot. Foulkes understandably did not want to speak to the political ramifications of her colleague's passing, but with early voting underway, a brief explanation is in order to help voters understand what could happen.

Besides Thompson and Foulkes, four other candidates are on the ballot, meaning it was somewhat likely that a runoff election would have been triggered anyway. There are now four general possibilities for what could occur:

1. Thompson wins an outright majority on Feb. 24. There is precedent for voters electing a candidate who has passed away. In the event that Thompson wins an outright majority, she will be declared the winner, and at the time the new term begins, the seat will be declared vacant, and be subject to mayoral appointment.

2. Foulkes wins an outright majority on Feb. 24. If Foulkes wins a majority, she is elected.

3. No candidate wins a majority, and Thompson finishes third or lower. As with any other runoff, if no candidate wins an outright majority, the top two finishing candidates will advance to the April runoff.

4. No candidate wins a majority, and Thompson finishes first or second. This is a likely scenario. The relevant statute here is 65 ILCS 20/21-29. In short, if the election goes to a runoff, and Thompson finishes first or second, her place on the runoff ballot will be taken by the candidate who finishes third on February 24.

 
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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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