Mendoza appears to win over 70 percent of city clerk votes; write-in candidates wait

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Courtesy of Stephanie Mendoza

City clerk candidate Stephanie Mendoza. With all precincts reporting, Stephanie Mendoza appears to have received over 70 percent of ballots cast in the city clerk race.

Maia Spoto, City Editor

City clerk candidate Stephanie Mendoza appears to have won over 70 percent of the vote, with all precincts reporting.

The office will release results for write-in candidates in the coming days. If a write-in candidate receives over 921 votes, they will have a spot on the ballot to run against Mendoza in the April 6 general election.

As of Tuesday night, Mendoza appears to have received over 6,500 of the over 9,500 ballots cast, according to unofficial results from the Cook County Clerk’s office.

The current count doesn’t include mail-in ballots still in transit — those will be added to final vote totals up to two weeks from Tuesday. Mendoza, the only city clerk candidate on the ballot, runs against write-in candidates Cynthia Beebe (Weinberg ’81, Medill ’83), Eduardo Gomez, Jackson Paller (Weinberg ’17), Misty Witenberg, Adedapo Odusanya and Darrell Patterson.

If elected in April, Mendoza would be the first Latina resident to sit on the dais.

“It’s a historic race,” Mendoza said. “Many times in my own life, I’ve been through doors other people have opened as a Latina. Now, we have officially opened the door.”

A community organizer and the current director of community outreach for Evanston Latinos, Mendoza received endorsements from the Democratic Party of Evanston, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston), state Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), Evanston Fight for Black Lives and other key local players prior to the primary election.

Mendoza runs promising to expand community outreach efforts supporting marginalized residents. She said she’ll facilitate partnerships with nonprofit organizations, communities of worship and other community leaders to actively connect residents with the clerk’s office’s services.

“Education is super important,” Mendoza said. “As we’re doing that, we also have to make sure we are actively reaching out to our most marginalized community members and including them in the conversation.”

Having worked with nonprofits like Evanston Latinos and Connections for the Homeless, Mendoza said she has already been in conversation with Evanston’s Equity and Empowerment Commission to expand language access for every city department. She said she wants to ensure people will be able to receive translations of City Council minutes and other documents in Spanish as well as other languages.

As Mendoza watched her votes roll in, write-in candidates sat in the dark.

“I haven’t the foggiest idea how many votes I’m going to end up with in the final total,” Paller said. “But I think that in the next few days I’ll be able to tell whether or not I had the impact on the race and on the next clerk that I wanted.”

Paller is running to open City Council’s operations to public scrutiny, increase interface between residents and officials and lower the barriers to running for office. He says his perspective navigating the legal landscape sets him apart from Mendoza, as he’s also studying law at Loyola University Chicago.

Even he does not reach the 921-vote threshold, Paller said he hopes a write-in candidate will secure a spot on the ballot in April so Mendoza will have a competitor in the general election.

“The city clerk, as a position, is too important… to be elected without a campaign,” Paller said. “Having to campaign for the position is going to make the next city clerk stronger and a more capable ally for transparency and general good government.”

Witenberg said she hopes any candidates who land on the April ballot will use their candidacy to push for transparency and a restoration of Freedom of Information Act duties to the clerk’s office.

“This is the most exciting local election we’ve had for a very long time,” Witenberg said. “We have a lot of people running who have been participating in the city for a long time, and are challenging its past practices and ways of dealing with the public… and it’s not over.”

A previous version of this story misstated the nature of the city clerk position. If elected, Mendoza would be the first Latinx candidate in Evanston to sit on the dais. The Daily regrets the error. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @maia_spoto

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