1st Ward too close to call, Clare Kelly leads over Judy Fiske

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Illustration by Meher Yeda

Evanston’s 1st Ward race was too close to call Tuesday, as Clare Kelly leads by 34 votes over Ald. Judy Fiske.

Joshua Irvine, Reporter

Clare Kelly still leads in the 1st Ward aldermanic race, with a 30-vote lead on incumbent Ald. Judy Fiske that has held since Tuesday.

According to unofficial election results from the Cook County Clerk’s Office, Kelly’s vote total currently sits at 581, with Fiske at 551.  Results may take some time to be finalized. Mail ballots postmarked as late as midnight Tuesday can still be counted up to two weeks later.

Kelly’s campaign thanked supporters and volunteers and expressed hope she would maintain her lead, in a statement released to The Daily Thursday.

“This campaign was powered by a broad and enthusiastic community effort with an impressive number of volunteers,” Kelly’s statement said. “I am especially thankful to my hardworking and brilliant team. This campaign was truly our community pulling together.”

Fiske has held office since 2009. She campaigned on her experience as of Tuesday, she was the second-longest serving alderman running besides Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd), following 8th Ward Ald. Ann Rainey’s ouster in February as well as her vocal support of local businesses. 

Kelly is a long-time activist and Evanston Township High School teacher running for the first time. She campaigned for the city to take more aggressive action on issues of racial equity, affordable housing and town-gown relations.

She was one of several challengers endorsed by the Organization for Positive Action & Leadership, the Community Alliance for Better Government and Reclaim Evanston.

Local activists criticized a February Fiske campaign newsletter, saying the newsletter’s “Civility Matters” section contained coded racism targeting local activists. Additionally, City Clerk Devon Reid said a resident who was removed from a February virtual 1st Ward meeting could have a First Amendment claim.

Kelly, meanwhile, was subject to attacks by political action committee Evanston Together LLC, which formed last month to oppose several challengers. Mayor Steve Hagerty, who was one of the group’s top donors, also donated $1,500 to Fiske’s campaign. 

Fiske, who was endorsed by Evanston Together, denied any involvement with the group.

Evanston Together accused Kelly of disruptive behavior toward community leaders in city meetings and claimed she’d attempted to cover up a 2019 arrest over a traffic stop. Kelly initially denied the accusation, but later confirmed she had been arrested; she told The Daily she was unaware the traffic stop constituted an arrest and had contacted police thinking it was an error. 

The 2nd Ward aldermanic race remains too close to call, according to initial results.

Fiske did not respond to The Daily’s requests for comment.

This is a developing story, and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @joshuajirvine

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