- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2003

CHICAGO, Feb. 25 (UPI) — Mayor Richard M. Daley cruised to an easy victory in Tuesday's at-large election, trouncing three opponents and capturing 78 percent of the vote.

The victory gives Daley, whose father presided over the city for 21 years before his death in 1976, his fifth term in office. Daley, 61, was first elected mayor April 4, 1989, to complete the term of the late Harold Washington.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Daley had 342,980 votes to 60,848 for the Rev. Paul Jakes, 25,666 for businesswoman Patricia McAllister and 6,999 for the Rev. Joseph McAfee.

The plurality was even greater than that Daley piled up in 1999 when he defeated by a 3-to-1 margin Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who was well-known in the city, first as a leader of the Black Panthers in the 1960s and later as a member of the City Council.

The election was held less than a week after Daley buried his mother and barely a week since 21 people were killed in a stampede at a South Side nightclub. Had the tragedy occurred earlier, it likely would have become a campaign issue.

Daley's tenure has been quiet compared with that of predecessors Washington, the city's first black mayor; and Jane Byrne, the first woman mayor. He has gone through a slew of police chiefs in his bid to bring down the city's crime rate and pushed beautification projects that have seen planters sprouting up along downtown streets and elsewhere, including a garden on the roof of City Hall.

Perhaps the most bizarre incident of his tenure was the 1992 Chicago River Flood, in which a hole was punched through the roof of an old tunnel system snaking 60-feet beneath the city. The incident forced the shutdown of the central business district as water flooded basements of major downtown buildings.

Daley had made no campaign appearances since his mother, Eleanor "Sis" Daley, died Feb. 16 though he has been running slick campaign commercials on television.

"It's been a difficult week," Daley spokesman Julian Green told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Other city offices also are up election.

The real action was in the aldermanic races with candidates in several wards trying to stir up interest by contending the City Council is just a rubber stamp for Daley and should develop an independent streak.

In the 3rd Ward, Alderman Dorothy Tillman — known as "The Hat" for her collection of chapeaux — faced three challengers and eked out a narrow victory. The ward was redrawn based on the 2000 census and many of the Chicago Housing Authority units, where the alderman found much of her support, have been demolished.

In the 25th Ward, incumbent Danny Solis managed to hold out against convicted felon Ambrosio Medrano, who previously held the seat. Medrano was convicted of bribery in the federal Silver Shovel investigation.

The city's first openly gay alderman, Thomas Tunney, became the city's first elected openly gay alderman, outpolling four opponents in the 44th Ward. Tunney earlier this year was appointed to the seat by Daley.

Former Chicago Bulls player Bob Love will face incumbent Ted Thomas in a runoff for the 15th Ward seat.

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