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Updated March 27, 1:00 p.m.

Emanuel ‘Chris” Welch was 33 votes ahead of Rory Hoskins after provisional ballots were counted at the Cook County Clerkfs Office Tuesday in the nose-to-nose 7th District Illinois state representative race.

Most recent totals released by the county Tuesday morning were Welch at 4,658 and Hoskins with 4,625 votes. Beyonca Johnson won 1,629 votes and Princess Dempsey tallied 1,005.

Mail ballot stragglers may trickle in until April 3 and the race will be certified April 10.

Hoskins and his team attended the examination of provisional ballots at the Clerkfs office, 69 E. Washington, Monday. Welch sent campaign representatives because his wife, Shawnte was at the hospital in labor with the couplefs first child.

Neither side is conceding the race and both candidates have hired election attorneys to assist in the legal challenges that may result with vote totals so close.

Rory Hoskins has hired Burt Odelson, the election lawyer who handled the residency challenge for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in last yearfs election. Odelson, along with Mark Sterk, are also the lawyers who sued Welch for libel and defamation in 2007 based on anonymous blog postings that were traced back to Welch.

Welch submitted his legal bills, which amounted to around $400,000, to Proviso Township High School District 209, where he serves as school board president. An Illinois State Board of Education financial oversight panel denied the majority of those payments in September 2011. Taxpayers paying Welchfs legal bills became a campaign issue in the race.

‘Odelson is clearly familiar with our opponent,” said Hoskinsf campaign manager, Larry Shapiro.

The Hoskins camp has also hired election lawyer Jim Nally.

Meanwhile, Welch has hired election attorney Richard Means.

Forest Parkers voted three-to-one for Hoskins. Before mail-in and provisional votes were counted, the county reported that Hoskins received 1,023 Forest Park votes with 349 votes cast for Welch.

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GOP goes for Romney
in Forest Park

A total of 424 Forest Park voters pulled Republican ballots last Tuesday, with 239, or 56.3 percent, going to Mitt Romney and 110 votes going to Rick Santorum (25.9 percent). Ron Paul received 58 votes (13.7 percent), Newt Gingrich got 29 (6.8 percent). Rick Perry received two votes and Charles ‘Buddy” Roemer received none.

The total number of registered voters in Forest Park is 7,746 and a total of 1,942 total ballots were cast in Forest Park, or 25 percent. Countywide, 23 percent of registered voters cast ballots Tuesday.

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Voters choose aggregation

Forest Parkers voted Tuesday 69 percent to 31 percent to give the village authority to buy electricity in bulk on their behalf and theoretically reduce residential electric bills by $138 a year per household according to the village. The total vote count on the referendum question was 1,973.

Forest Park, along with several other local municipalities, voted to buy electricity at substantially less expensive ‘aggregated” rates. The village and other large power buyers have been enjoying these rates for several years, paying as little as 5.43 cents per kilowatt hour while individual homes pay 7.73 cents per kwh. With new Illinois legislation, municipal bodies are able to negotiate new contracts on behalf of smaller customers that qualify for these lower rates.

Officials estimate that, based on past usage rates over 12 months in Forest Park, a total of $1.2 million may be saved by local residents.

Nineteen local municipalities passed a referendum in 2011 and are now paying rates below the standard ComEd rate.

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...