CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was not able to run for mayor because of her battle with cancer, but she did leave her mark on the race. Lewis helped convince Jesus "Chuy" Garcia to run and be a formidable candidate to challenge Mayor Emanuel's re-election bid.
"The fact that we had a runoff is a humongous win," Lewis said.
Karen Lewis is feeling victorious this Election Day, although not in the way she'd initially hoped. An early contender in the mayor's race, Lewis was forced out by a health crisis.
"I had a lot of people who were collecting signatures for me and they were asking, 'What do we do with these signatures?' They were stunned. We all were," Lewis said.
It was Lewis who first approached Jesus "Chuy" Garcia about entering the race.
"Once I became ill, I thought, who could I bring together that could bring together a coalition of people," Lewis said.
She says collaboration and respect are key to solving Chicago's problems.
"We can't ever change the political landscape if we are in our own little silos and not working together," Lewis said.
No matter the outcome, Lewis says this historic runoff is a win.
"I think it sends a resounding message across the county that the status quo can be challenged and to do that grassroots, you do that by participatory democracy," Lewis said. "To be a part of history is always important."
Lewis said her political aspirations are over, and at age 61, she's looking forward to spending more time with her family. She also predicts she'll be asleep by the time the final results come in.
ABC7 exclusive interview with Karen Lewis