As of the afternoon of April 10, Jennifer Barbahen has taken a 9-vote lead over incumbent Theresa Kelly for the last seat on the Proviso Township High School District 209 school board, as mail-in ballots continue to come in, shifting the unofficial results from Election Night, which had put Kelly in the lead and in that third seat.
As of 3:52 p.m. on Monday afternoon, the latest numbers put Barbahen in the lead with 4,801 votes to Kelly’s 4,792 votes, a 9-vote difference.
On Election Night, Village Free Press reported that Barbahen received 4,539, 14.71%, of votes cast, losing the third spot she had held for most of the night to incumbent Kelly, who received 4,619 votes, 14.97%.
As of the morning of April 10, as mail-in votes were slowly added, Barbahen had received 4,674 votes, 14.80%, putting her only 44 votes behind Kelly, who had received 4,718 votes, 14.93%.
“We are still very hopeful that the mail-in votes will lean in my favor so that the original mission of the three of us reforming the school board will come to fruition,” Barbahen said.
Kelly said she would not provide a comment until official results have been declared by county election officials.
According to Frank Herrera, director of communications for Cook County Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough, there were 7,284 mail-in ballots requested for Proviso Township. As of Monday, April 10, 3,956 mail-in ballots have been returned.
The two candidates who came in first and second place, David Ocampo and Sandra Lee Hixson, belonged to the same candidate slate, Proviso 209 Unites, as Barbahen and expressed a bittersweet feeling with the results, hoping that she would be able to pull enough votes by the time official results are announced.
Ocampo, who as of Monday morning has received 5,836 votes, 18.47%, said there was still a “window of opportunity,” for the HBO slate to occupy all three seats.
Slate mate Hixson, who as of Monday morning has received 5,247 votes, 16.61%, said if the HBO slate were able to secure three seats on the board, they would be able to push their agenda of “students first,” and address concerns of “wasteful spending,” on behalf of the current board, composed of Kelly, Board President Arbdella Patterson, Samuel Valtierrez, Rodney Alexander, Amanda Grant, Claudia Medina, and Nathan Wagner.
“I think it is important to note that I ran with a team of three and we ran for all three seats,” said Barbahen. “The three reform candidates of HBO, two of those seats are secured so we are very proud and happy, and we feel like we can make positive change.”
Medina, who sought her third term on the board, lost her seat in this election, coming in fifth with 3,749 votes, 11.87%. Wagner did not seek reelection.
According to the Cook County Clerk’s office, mail-in ballots have two weeks from Election Day to get to the clerk’s office and will be counted if they were postmarked by April 4.
The clerk’s office will be updating results as the mail-in ballots are scanned and accounted for and a certification and declaration of the official results to the Illinois State Board of Elections will happen no later than April 25.