Richard Boykin enthusiastically declared victory Tuesday evening in the ballroom of Oak Park’s Carleton Hotel. “Tonight we did more than win an election, we set forth to make a difference,” Boykin told a large crowd of supporters as the Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger” blared on speakers.
Blake Sercye, the 27-year-old challenger, called Boykin late Tuesday evening to concede the hotly contested five-way race for 1st Cook County Commissioner. Boykin said, “We look forward to working with him (Sercye) going forward. We’re going to work with everybody.”
Boykin, now a practicing attorney but for many years the top aide to Congressman Danny Davis, thanked Davis after his introduction and said, “He’s more than a friend … he’s like a father to me.”
Also on stage with Boykin were Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, a powerful force in Proviso Township; former Oak Park Village President David Pope and current Oak Park trustees Bob Tucker and Adam Salzman; and Chicago Ald. Nicholas Sposato.
Boykin thanked Pope for his support and the impact it had in Oak Park. “We didn’t lose Oak Park too bad,” said Boykin, “I got the feeling we didn’t lose too bad because of you.”
Pope was equally positive about Boykin.
“We have been needing for a long time representation at the county board that is committed to bringing together people in the city and people in the suburbs across districts who share common interests and common desires for the future of their communities, the future of their families and their children’s opportunities,” Pope said.
“I think Richard is the person who can deliver that.”
The seat is currently held by Earlean Collins, who is retiring.
At 10:40 p.m., with 10 percent of precincts still to report, Boykin, a lawyer/lobbyist and former chief of staff to Davis (D-Chicago), had received 30.5 percent of the vote; Sercye, who had the backing of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Board President Toni Preckwinkle, 26 percent; former Chicago Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers won 22.5 percent on the strength of his West Side vote total; Brenda Smith, a former staffer for Carothers and a current staff member for Collins had 17 percent; and Lawless, an Oak Park resident and community activist, 4 percent.
Candidates focused much of their campaigning efforts on the suburban areas of Oak Park, River Forest, Proviso and surrounding communities.
Boykin faced fierce criticism during the election for claiming multiple homestead property tax exemptions and for his support for Republican Mark Kirk in the 2010 Illinois Senate race.
Lawless argued that Boykin, who said he was unaware of the tax exemptions for his multiple homes, was either “incompetent or dishonest” and that voters needed to clean house at the county board.
Carothers defended his record as an alderman and asked voters for forgiveness for his time spent in prison for bribery and tax evasion.
Sercye, who received major endorsements from the Democratic power structure as well as the Democratic Party of Oak Park and Oak Park Village President Anan Abu-Taleb, said he would not be bought and paid for by the Democratic Party.