Incumbent Kimberly Lightford is well ahead of challenger James Smith in the race for 4th District state senator as of 11 p.m. Tuesday night, receiving over 87 percent percent of the vote so far.

Just under 34 percent of precincts in the district had reported results.

Smith said he is not yet ready to concede defeat. “Well, I’m discouraged. It’s not nice to be losing,” he said. “I’ll go home tonight and I’m still going to have drug dealers on my corner, my schools still won’t work, and I still won’t have access to my legislator,” he said, noting his dissapointment with voter turnout in the election. 

“It’s a travesty that people don’t have enough hope in a state legislator to at least come out and vote,” he commented.

Lightford could not be reached Tuesday night.

Lightford, who has served in the senate since 1998, is the chair of the Senate Education Committee and also served on the Senate Higher Education Committee, the Senate Financial Institutions Committee and the Senate Labor and Appropriations Committee.

She has touted her work fighting the payday loan industry and her support for increases in the minimum wage while on the campaign trail.

Recently, she was able to secure a $300,000 grant for the Village of Forest Park through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to help fund a future parking solution for the village’s downtown area.

Smith, a Chicago Public School teacher who operates the Chicago-based Servants of the Word Youth Outreach Program, has been critical of Lightford for the problems facing the district’s public schools under her leadership, calling for policy changes and accountability rather than “throwing money at the problem.” He has also emphasized the need for increased economic development on Chicago’s West Side. 

– Seth Stern