Politics in review: Election results keep rolling in; West Side TIF zone gets $1M facelift; bringing out the big guns?

Here's a rundown of the elections and political news The Chicago Reporter was discussing this week:

More than a week after Illinois' March 20 primary, more results have come in. In the 7th District statehouse race in west Cook County, Emanuel "Chris" Welch edged past his challenger, Rory Hoskins, by 36 votes. Welch, a lawyer and president of the Proviso District 209 school board was declared the nominee on Tuesday. For more than a week, absentee ballots were still being counted and, during that time, only 15 votes separated him and Forest Park Commissioner Rory Hoskins. The race was extremely close even though Welch far outspent Hoskins. Welch was also dogged by a number of scandals and controversies including a past sexual harassment suit and subsequent order of protection against him, a libel lawsuit, accusations of mass patronage hiring, and inept financial leadership as the District 209 board chair. Nonetheless, he got the nod.

Meanwhile, in the 39th District statehouse race, Will Guzzardi is standing firm and refusing to concede to incumbent Toni Berrios, who, last time the Reporter checked, was ahead by 125 votes. It's not clear at this point if Guzzardi will ask for a recount, which could prove costly.

The city council recently OK'd the use of more than $1 million to fix up vacant and foreclosed properties located in the Central Park TIF district, Austin Talks reported yesterday. Those funds are going to be used to help lower-income residents purchase and fix up homes that are located in parts of the 27th and 28th wards, according to a press release from 28th Ward Alderman Jason Ervin. In order to qualify, a homebuyer's earnings cannot be more than 120 percent above the area's median income level -- $75,000 for a family of four, according to the press release. What's more, the property has to be vacant and in need of more than $25,000 in rehab work per unit. The money from City Hall is estimated to be enough to fix up 20-30 single-family homes. When asked whether $1 million is enough to make a dent in the TIF district, which has large patches of foreclosures, Tom Feltner, of the Woodstock Institute said that there will be some impact. "Our data shows that [a single] new foreclosure filing drops [surrounding] property values by one percentage point [each]," he said. The Woodstock Institute is an advocacy group focused on issues of fair housing and lending.

At the judicial level, the Illinois Supreme Court allowed opponents of a Cook County ban on assault weapons to bring their case back to the lower courts. At issue is whether assault weapons have the same Second Amendment protection as handguns. The county ordinance prohibits "high-capacity, rapid-fire" rifles and pistols. It also outlaws the sale or possession of “any assault weapon or large capacity magazine.” The ruling is a small victory for gun rights advocates. But several opponents, like Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, think the lower courts will uphold the ruling. "I will continue to support all efforts to stem gun violence in our community, including the county law,” she said in a prepared statement on Thursday.

© Community Renewal Society 2012

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