By Wednesday morning, with all precincts reporting, Emanuel Chris Welch had a 15 vote lead over Rory Hoskins in the hotly contested 7th District race.  Welch had 4,631 votes and Hoskins had 4,616.

“The vote totals will change slightly,” confirmed Courtney Greve, spokeswoman for the Cook County Clerk’s office. “We will still receive mail ballots postmarked on Monday and possible military ballots.” The election will not be officially certified for three weeks, said Greve.

Sixty-six provisional votes need to be verified, Greve said. She pointed out not all will be accepted. Up to 114 outstanding mail ballots are also not included in the totals.

Late Tuesday night, final election results could not immediately be tallied because two precincts out of 87 had data-pack transfer jams. The two jammed machines were in precincts at the heart of both campaigns. One was at Grant-White School in Forest Park (Proviso 65) and the other was in Westchester, at St. Joseph’s High School (81) home turf of Welch’s Field Supervisor Angelo Calcagno.

The consolidation devices at the two late-result precincts were unable to blend the cartridge results from the touch screen votes and the memory packs from the paper ballots, so the electronics and paper ballots were brought down to the Hawthorn Distribution Center at 4545 W. Cermak Rd. to re-count the votes.

“This race is too close to call,” Welch told supporters at 10 p.m. on Election Night at his victory party at Luis and Luigi’s, 5245 St. Charles Rd. in Berkeley. “But we’re going to fight this every step of the way.”

He thanked his supporters in the crowd, including his wife and fellow District 209 school board members  Francine Harrell and Brian Cross, as well as Proviso area mayors, Melrose Park’s Ron Serpico, Ben Mazzullo of Stone Park, Hillside’s Joseph Tamburino, Sherman Jones from Broadview. Brother Billy Welch, a janitor at Proviso East and best friend Ron “R.C.” Anderson. Forest Park Commissioner Mark Hosty was present, although Mayor Anthony Calderone, a Welch supporter, did not show up.

Hoskins campaign manager Larry Shapiro told a crowd gathered at Jimmy’s Place on Madison Street in Forest Park that results may not be known for weeks. “We still have to count the military and provisional ballots.” Shapiro said he had worked on a previous campaign that was decided by a coin toss. The race was the state rep contest in Oak Park and Austin between Deborah Graham and Dorothy Reid in 2002.

Among the Hoskins supporters anxiously watching the results trickle in were former village commissioners and mayoral candidates Terry Steinbach and Marty Tellalian and park board commissioners Cathleen McDermott and Eric Entler.

“No one would have figured two months ago that it would be this close,” Hoskins said referring to Welch’s advantage in money, endorsements and name recognition.

The Cook County Clerk’s office allowed two representatives from each campaign to observe the vote counting late Tuesday.

Hoskins went himself with campaign worker Terrance Jones from Maywood and Welch sent two campaign workers: fellow District 209 School Board Member Brian Cross, and volunteer Mike DeBartlo.

“For us it’s not over. We’re just mapping our strategy,” said Shapiro. “It goes without saying with those numbers that we will be reviewing the votes as the Clerk’s office goes through their process.”  Early Wednesday morning, Hoskins was speaking to an election attorney, according to Shapiro.

Beyonca Johnson had 1,624 votes, and Princess Dempsey had 1,004 votes.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...