Voting was light but steady on Feb. 23, Primary Election Day. RoundTable photo

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Eighth Ward resident Alicia Aiken weaved her way through a gauntlet of candidates and their campaign workers, standing outside the Eighth Ward polling place at Oakton School on primary day.

Ms. Aiken, a 20-year-resident of the Ward, was especially eager to vote, putting the turmoil of the national election behind her.

“If you pay attention to what’s happening locally you have more control,” she said. “Your vote really means something. So local is the most important election. It drives me nuts more people don’t come out for this one.”

Voting was  slightly lower compared to the primary four years ago, but maybe not as much as people think.

In the 2017 primary mayoral race, featuring a five-candidate field, 10,167 ballots were cast, constituting 20.39% of the city’s 49,874 registered voters, according to results on the Cook County Clerk’s site.

Stephen Hagerty emerged as the top vote getter in that race, receiving 4,495 or 44.37% of the votes.

In this year’s mayoral race, 9,668 votes were cast, unofficial totals show.
Mayoral candidate Daniel Biss received 7,080 or 73.62% of the votes cast, easily surpassing the 50% plus one vote he needed to avoid a runoff and win the office outright.

Seventh Ward resident Cydne Gillard specifically made the mayor’s race a focus, voting at her polling place at Haven Middle School, 2417 Prairie Ave.

“We have three very good candidates. I think they’re all intelligent people and they can be great mayors,” she said.

“But if only 2,000 people end up voting, your involving one, two demographics, barely,” she added.

“It becomes so light we don’t get a good representation of the voter,” she said.
Sam Lang, in the computer software field, indicated a similar concern brought him to Beth Emet The Free Synagogue, where voting for Ward 4, precinct 4 was located.

“I really think the primary is going to end up being the election. That’s a big factor,” he said.

He wanted to make sure his candidate of choice was “someone interested in helping out people that need it in the community.”

Mark Potosnak, a professor of environmental science at DePaul  University and a Fourth Ward resident, indicated a Ward-specific issue, the new Robert Crown Community, drew him, also to Beth Emet.

“I love it, it’s very nice, but of course it’s very expensive,” he said, without revealing which candidate he supported.

Home from college, Sarah Frieman, another voter at Beth Emet, came for a specific reason.

“I kind of followed the Evanston Fight for Black Lives Voters guide. They made a whole voters guide on Instagram. They did a lot of research in which candidates to support on defunding, so that’s a big issue for me.”

Another voter at Beth Emet, a middle-aged Black man, declined to give his name. He said he was just doing his civic duty.

He voted for Daniel Biss, he said.

“I just kind of like his philosophy, his thought,” he said.

Bob Seidenberg

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.