Garrido not yet conceding in 45th Ward race

April 8, 2011 3:22:19 PM PDT
Most of the absentee ballots counted are evenly split in the tight runoff election for Chicago's 45th aldermanic ward.

Candidate John Arena says the aldermanic race is over, and he's the winner.

But his challenger John Garrido isn't giving up on the race just yet.

The 45th Ward seat represents residents on Chicago's Northwest Side.

In an election where over 12,000 votes were cast, it appears that one candidate's three-tenths of one percent advantage has held. Officials tallied most of the few uncounted ballots from the 45th Ward this Friday morning.

From the minute the election board counting room opened, Garrido realized it was a long shot.

When the 48 available absentee ballots were split down the middle between himself and his opponent Arena, nothing had changed.

"After these 48, we're still at a 29 vote deficit, right," Garrido said.

The lawyer and Chicago police lieutenant still trails Arena by 29 votes in Tuesday's 45th Ward aldermanic runoff.

Officially, the election board says no more than 21 absentee ballots remain outstanding, and seven so-called "provisional" ballots have not been counted.

Arena's consultant says even if Garrido won all 28 potentially outstanding votes, he still could not win the election.

"Mathematically, this race is over. There's not enough for John Garrido to come back. John Arena will emerge with the majority of the votes in this race," said Arena's campaign consultant Michael Rendina.

A businessman and community activist, Arena was endorsed by both major Chicago newspapers and by several labor unions.

Garrido was the Republican Party's last chance to have one of its members on the new Chicago City Council.

In the days before the non-partisan runoff, Arena's campaign bombarded the ward with mailers that Garrido said distorted his record.

He says he won't rule out a formal recount until he sees the final numbers.

"If it comes down to eight votes, four or five votes moved one way or the other, it could completely change things," Garrido said.

"It's time to move on. It's time to start the transition to make sure the residents of the 45th Ward get an alderman who gets off the right start and has a seamless transition," Rendina said.

As it stands, Garrido will have to make a final decision about a recount request before he has the final numbers. The law says the deadline for such an action is Monday, or no more than five business days after election day.

The other factor is money -- an estimated cost of a recount would run in the tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.