Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel won the runoff election Tuesday against challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in one of the toughest electoral competitions in the city's recent history.
According to electoral authorities, as 84 percent of ballot papers have been counted, Emanuel was leading by about 56 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Garcia, while turnout was 44 percent. Garcia said he had called Emanuel to concede, reported Reuters.
Although both candidates belong to the Democrat Party, they represented two very opposite ways of addressing the city's crucial issues — violence and financial crisis. Chicago's budget deficit is expected to increase to $1.2 billion by next year due to public pension payments. Emanuel has especially been slammed for shutting down 50 public schools, as well as for his aggressive approach toward combatting violent crime.
Emanuel struggled hard to rehabilitate his image with voters during the campaign, spending millions of dollars on television and radio ads. Garcia, on the other hand, counted on the support of the teachers unions, but did not use as many ostentatious resources in his campaign as his opponent.
Kythzia Jurado, 40, a graphic designer and Garcia supporter, told Reuters: "My main concern is that Rahm will continue to ignore the (popular) neighborhoods and focus on (touristic) downtown."
As Emanuel mostly concentrated the vote of the wealthy minority living downtown — according to the statistics of the previous election, Garcia was supposed to benefit from the predicted higher turnout for this runoff election, but the turnout was eventually lower than expected.
Another Garcia supporter, Marco Camacho, a public school teacher, said he is worried that the city will continue to see a depletion of school resources and that teachers will strike again, as they did in 2012.