Steans wins race for state senate seat

Heather Steans, an Edgewater foundation manager with ties to the public school system, defeated Suzanne Elder to win the Democratic nomination for the district 7 state senate seat.

With 95 percent of the votes counted Tuesday night, Steans was ahead with 19,861 votes, or 64 percent.

Her opponent, Suzanne Elder, collected 11,420 votes or 37 percent.

The race was to fill the seat vacated by Carol Ronen when she announced her resignation midway through a four-year term.

The 7th district covers the north lakefront, including East Rogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown and Ravenswood.

Steans, 44, of Edgewater, oversees housing and economic development programs for her family foundation. Her experience includes managing budgets for government agencies in Illinois and Milwaukee and a stint as a strategic planner for the Chicago schools.

Her platform included increasing funding for education and reforming the tax system, two issues that she said were integrally related. She argued that an increase in the state income tax and an expansion of the sales tax base would help to correct the disparities in public school funding that result from reliance on property taxes. She also campaigned on school accountability and programs to attract and support new teachers.

Elder, 47, an Uptown resident, formerly worked as a health policy analyst at the Institute of Policy Research at the University of Chicago.

The Democratic race for Illinois House district 26, which includes sections of 17 Chicago wards, including the Gold Coast, River North, North Michigan Avenue and Loop areas, was closer.

At  10 p.m., with 112 of 127 precincts counted, William Burns, a former staffer to Sen. Barack Obama and former deputy chief of staff for State Sen. Emil Jones, was leading with 7,976 votes, about 33 percent of the vote in a five-way race.
Businessman Kenny Johnson was in second place with 6,779 votes, or 28 percent.

Incumbent Elga Jefferies, 61, was out of a job, coming in fourth place with about 12 percent of the vote, or 2,817 votes.

The winner will face Republican Sylvester Hendricks in the November general election.

In the Democratic race for county recorder of deeds, incumbent Eugene Moore defeated Alderman  Ed Smith, earning a fourth term.

The race focused on plans to modernize the office, which manages millions of property and tax lien records, among other public documents.

Moore, 65, took credit for bringing the office, which handled most transactions manually when he began in 1999, out of the 19th century. He cited his office's conversion of all records since 1985 to an electronic format that is available on-line as evidence of his office's efficiency. Moore's office also said that it planned to add additional documents, dating back to 1974, to the electronic database and that it would expand electronic filing options by making electronic signatures available to attorneys, banks, realtors and mortgage companies.

In a highly charged race for the Cook County Board of Review, incumbent Joseph Berrios held his seat on the three-person panel that hears property tax assessment appeals, defeating challenger Jay Paul Deratany.

With 86 percent of the votes tallied, Berrios' was ahead with 60 percent of the vote.

Throughout the campaign, Deratany, an attorney, charged that Berrios rewarded well-connected campaign contributors with tax decreases, shifting the tax burden to small businesses and residential homeowners. Berrios' position as chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, Deratany charged, influenced his decisions toward prominent party members.

In turn, Berrios, 55, cited Deratany's support from Cook County assessor James Houlihan as a conflict of interest for his opponent. An accountant who has served on the board since 1988, Berrios said he supports a Cook County tax freeze, and he pointed to the 175,000 appeals heard before the board in 2007 as evidence that the board is accessible to taxpayers.

The Democratic race for three seats on the county's water reclamation district board was still close late Tuesday with  incumbents Frank Avila, Cynthia Santos and Kathleen Therese Meany in the top three spots. Diane Jones, an administrative assistant to reclamation district commissioner Patricia Horton was in fourth place, but by less than one percentage point.

The board manages Chicago's water supply, managing floods and monitoring pollution in the area's lakes, rivers and streams. 

Today's winners will face three Green Party candidates, John "Jack" Ailey, Rita Bogolub and Nadine Bopp, in November.

Carrie Topolinski, Andrew Peck and Lori Hendricks contributed to this report.