Though three incumbents to the District 91 Board of Education were secure in their election bids last week, five candidates vying for two shorter terms are left twisting in the wind.
A pair of vacant two-year seats were sought only by write-in candidates, and although the county’s unofficial tally is complete, write-in campaigns won’t know the outcome of their efforts for almost two more weeks. According to Cook County Clerk spokesperson Kelley Quinn, the canvass process got underway on April 24 and will be completed by May 8.
Canvassing the ballots in suburban Cook County requires that election officials manually count every name that’s written onto every ballot in the various races. In Forest Park alone, there were five write-in candidates in District 91, a write-in candidate for mayor and a write-in candidate for the District 209 high school board of education.
“That’s going to take a number of days,” Quinn said.
Until then, the candidates and the voters remain in a state of limbo as they wait to see the outcome of the count. This is the first year that Cook County is handling canvassing responsibilities.
“I’m anxious for it to be over,” Kristine Lazzara, who ran a write-in campaign for the District 91 Board of Education, said.
Lazzara was actually the first of the five candidates in that race to register with the county clerk. At the time, Lazzara said it seemed unlikely there would be such a surge of interest in the two seats, and found it plausible the school board would still be forced to make an appointment.
The two-year seats were vacated by incumbent board members Sean Blaylock and Francis Mott, who ran uncontested for a pair of four-year seats.
Mary Needham Turek is another write-in candidate waiting for the results of the District 91 race, but said she knew from the start that a victory wasn’t guaranteed. Two others had registered before her and she knew two more were thinking it over.
“I did not think I was going to be a shoe in,” Needham Turek said.
Now Lazzara, Needham Turek and the other challengers, Catherine Denham, John Tricoci and Joan White, must wait to see where the chips will fall.
“Whoever is actually written in by the voters, you can’t go wrong,” Lazzara said.
Immediately prior to this month’s election the seven member board was staring at the very real likelihood of having a majority of its members brought into the fold through appointments. Mary Win Connor was given the nod after originally filing to challenge three incumbents for a four-year term. For Mott and Blaylock, this marked their first school board election after having been appointed to serve out the remainder of two terms vacated by previous board members.
Board President Lois Bugajsky got her start through an appointment and Connor replaced a board member who was also hand picked.
Forest Park’s K-8 school board is scheduled to meet on May 10, at which point the official election results should be certified by the county. At that meeting, all of the newly elected District 91 board members will be sworn in to begin their terms.