Boykin wins Cook County Board primary

March 19, 2014
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Richard Boykin won the Democratic nomination for the Cook County Board’s 1st District seat Tuesday, beating four other candidates to replace retiring Commissioner Earlean Collins.

Amid a roar of cheers, Boykin entered his election party at Oak Park’s Carleton Hotel Tuesday about 9:45 p.m. as a D.J. blasted “Eye of the Tiger” – right after his former boss, U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis, walked in with two-handed waves and all smiles.

“People said Richard Boykin is naïve,” Davis said. “I told them that he believes what he believes.”

In the end, it was a three-way race between Davis’ former chief of staff and alderman-turned-convict Isaac “Ike” Carothers and Blake Sercye, a 27-year-old lawyer who won key endorsements from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Boykin ended up winning about 31 percent (7,104) of the 23,201 votes cast on Chicago’s West Side and in the nearby suburbs, according to unofficial results. Sercye trailed with about 26 percent (5,987), and Carothers got about 23 percent (5,311). Former Carothers aide Brenda Smith garnered about 17 percent (3,956), while repeat-candidate Ronald Lawless received about 4 percent (843).

Boykin will run in the Nov. 4 general election but is expected to easily win the strongly Democratic district.

The Barnes & Thornburg attorney declared victory Tuesday night with results from about 15 percent of the precincts still needing to be reported. But he said he’d already received a conceding phone call from Sercye, who ran between 2 and 5 percentage points behind Boykin most of the night.

“I said two things,” Sercye told AustinTalks at Maya Del Sol in Oak Park, where he held his own election party.

“I said congrats and told him he had a great campaign. I also said I will do anything I can to work with him and help our community.

“I’ve said from the beginning that no matter what happens, on March 19, I’m gonna wake up and still do all I’ve been doing on the West Side,” Sercye said.

He said he wasn’t surprised by the loss and wouldn’t have been surprised if he won – that’s just how campaigns are.

“One day everyone loves you, the next day you’re 20 points down,” Sercye said.

Boykin had a long list of endorsements, including a number of suburban officials, pastors and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, and raised the most.

Tuesday night, Boykin talked about some of the issues the candidates had been plugging throughout the campaign, including making the district a safer place.

“I knocked on thousands of doors and talked to thousands of people, and everyone wants the same thing. They want their kids to be able to walk down the streets without running the risk of being gunned down.”

Boykin’s win comes despite allegations last month that he might not be a Cook County resident.

The Oak Park Wednesday Journal reported that Boykin could have been breaking state law when he received more than one homestead tax exemption for properties in two counties, two in Oak Park and one in Bolingbrook.

Boykin said at the time he’s separated from his wife, who lives in Bolingbrook, and he lives in Oak Park. He said he didn’t know about the multiple tax breaks until the Wednesday Journal brought it to his attention and was in the process of waiving the exemptions for the properties he doesn’t live at – an Oak Park condo and a Bolingbrook home.

Fellow candidate Lawless said at the time he would contest Boykin’s residency if he won. Lawless could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Boykin’s campaign coffers were the largest of all five Democrats. He reported raising almost $348,000 – about $52,000 in the final four days. About $140,000 was his own money, Illinois State Board of Elections records show.

Carothers – the third-place finisher – hoped to mount a political comeback. He had served 11 years as 29th Ward alderman before pleading guilty in 2010 to federal corruption charges and going to prison.

That didn’t seem to dampen support for him in Chicago precincts, where unofficial election results showed him winning 4,119 votes – more than the other four candidates. Boykin came in second in city precincts with 3,761.

Carothers could not be reached for comment Tuesday night, but he told the Chicago Tribune he was not ruling out another run for political office.

Sercye won the greatest number of votes in suburban Cook County – 3,986 (38 percent), to Boykin’s 3,343 (31.9 percent). Outside of Chicago, Smith received 1,581 (15 percent), while Carothers garnered 1,192 (11.4 percent).

Republicans fielded no candidate in Tuesday’s primary for the Cook County board seat but have time to slate someone for the fall general election.

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