Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Democrats sweep vote

State Rep. Julie Hamos will be heading back to Springfield for another two years after a landslide victory Tuesday.

The now third-term Democrat won the race with 71 percent of the vote to Republican challenger James O’Hara’s 29 percent.

Hamos said she has a full agenda ready for her new term representing the 18th district, including fair housing and criminal justice reform.

Some of the key issues will result from new boundaries in her district, she said.

“With six lakefront communities, we have a unique district,” Hamos said. “Clean water has become an important issue, and after this summer we need to start thinking about a West Nile task force.”

Hamos’ win did not come as a surprise to many voters, some of whom came to celebrate with her at Prairie Moon, 1502 Sherman Ave. The Evanston bar and restaurant was packed with supporters cheering on Hamos and other local Democrats.

One of these supporters was Communication senior Rohith Malya, a campaign coordinator.

“Evanston is a progressive community,” Malya said. “Hamos represents the heart and core of Evanston.”

Campaign manager Janet Parker attributed Tuesday’s overwhelming victory to Hamos’ experience.

“Hamos had a record to prove she had actually done stuff,” Parker said. “People knew she had worked to improve health care and the El.”

Hamos was praised for being a positive participant in the North Shore community. Megan Donohue, a senior at New Trier High School, said Hamos came to the school and allowed students to work on her campaign as part of a class project.

“She made us feel welcome,” Donohue said. “(Hamos) made a strong effort to get to know each of us.”

Hamos was first elected in 1998. Before her election, Hamos founded Julie E. Hamos & Associates, a public policy and community relations firm. The organization helped improve Cook County court’s child reform system.

Hamos said she has big plans for more reforms now that the campaign is over. She said she is relieved to reclaim her seat and cannot wait to start working for the people of her district again.

“It’s time to get back to my real work,” she said. “Politics is what I have to do, but I’m excited to get back to the love of my life, which is policy making.”

O’Hara, Weinberg ’90, had many different reactions as the results came in Tuesday.

The enthusiasm started high and practically seeped through the walls of the cramped New Trier Republican Organization headquarters in Kenilworth, Ill., where O’Hara was stationed.

O’Hara and his supporters cheered and clapped whenever a precinct reported an O’Hara victory. He said his campaign had worked hard in the days leading up to the election.

“We spent hours and hours making sure people who care about clean water and affordable home ownership get to the polls,” he said.

But the excitement waned as the reality of O’Hara’s loss set in and families headed home.

Despite this, former Illinois state Sen. Roger Keats, 1976 to 1992, commended O’Hara for putting up a “good fight” against incumbent Hamos in a Democratic-leaning district.

“There was good enthusiasm and good issues,” Keats said.

O’Hara comes from a different background from Hamos. Although he was an Associated Student Government vice president at Northwestern, most of his experience is in the software business.

O’Hara said he plans to go back to his entrepreneurial efforts but also will continue working on his key issues: affordable housing and cleaning up the North Shore canal. He also said he has not ruled out the possibility of running for office again.

“(I) will continue moving forward … and getting the message out,” O’Hara said.

The Daily’s Andrew Green contributed to this report.

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Democrats sweep vote