By Dean DeChiaro
For a brief moment Tuesday night, it appeared inevitable that a Daley would return to Chicago City Hall.
But it was not to be, as law student and political newcomer John Kozlar forced a runoff with Patrick Daley Thompson, nephew and grandson of the former dynastic mayors, in the 11th Ward aldermanic election.
“It’s going to take a few extra weeks,” said Thompson outside his campaign headquarters late Tuesday. “I would have liked to have finished it today, but it’s difficult in a three-way race with an open seat.”
Thompson came within 181 votes of winning the race, pulling in 48 percent of the vote with all but two of the ward’s precincts reporting. Kozlar took 36 percent of the vote, while a third candidate, Maureen Sullivan, took 16 percent.
The runoff election will be held April 7 between Thompson and Kozlar.
The 11th Ward includes Bridgeport, the historical epicenter of the Daley dynasty’s Democratic machine, as well as Canaryville and sections of Back of the Yards and the Pilsen Arts District.
Kozlar couldn’t be reached following the announcement of the runoff, but he expressed optimism about the race after polls closed. He even went as far as to project a victory.
“I think we’re going to be in the winner’s circle and just make history because this community is going to come together as one,” he said.
Supporters who gathered at Freddie’s, the restaurant where Kozlar held his election night celebration, said they thought his campaign was highlighted by fresh ideas and optimism.
“He’s got a strong desire to get out there and facilitate change rather than sticking to the status quo,” said Patrick Nguyen.
Even before the runoff was announced, the atmosphere at Freddie’s was considerably more celebratory than at Thompson’s headquarters, which until 10 p.m., was sparsely populated by members of the press and a single campaign official.
Thompson was watching at the Ward 11 district office, according to Dave Bayless, his spokesman. The media and members of the public were not invited. Asked why he didn’t host a typical gathering, he said he wasn’t sure what “a traditional” campaign gathering would involve.
“I’ve been involved with campaigns and I know that at the end of the night our volunteers and workers are very tired,” he said. “So out of respect for that, we’ve got a celebration planned and it’s just going to be delayed a few weeks.”
Still, Thompson said he wasn’t daunted by a one-on-one matchup with Kozlar.
“It’s a clear choice now between two ideas and two visions for the Ward,” he said.