By LINDSAY WELBERS
Hyde Parkers last week reelected their favorite son, Barack Obama, to a second presidency — with a little help from the rest of the country.
Voters in the Fourth ward voted overwhelmingly to re-elect Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, 93.65 percent, compared to the 5.31 percent who voted for Republican Party nominees Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Voters in the Fifth Ward voted similarly, 95.38 percent in favor of Obama and Biden, and 3.36 percent who sided with Romney and Paul.
Third Ward residents supported the Democratic Party nominees 90.16 percent, compared to 9.04 percent who voted for the Republican nominees.
State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) and state Reps. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) and Christian Mitchell (D-26), who will replace Kimberly du Buclet in Springfield, all ran unopposed.
Voters also supported an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would have required state union employees’ seeking to increase their retirement benefits to achieve approval from the legislature. Though the majority of residents in each the third, fourth and fifth wards approved the amendment, 63.06 percent, 57.88 percent and 53.01 percent respectively, the measure needed to be approved by at least 60 percent of persons casting ballots on the measure, or more than 50 percent of the total ballots cast in the election.
Statewide, the measure received support from 56 percent of Illinoisans and did not pass. Gov. Pat Quinn has set a deadline of Jan. 9 for the legislature to find a solution for pension reform. Quinn told the current legislature it needs to find a solution for the $85 billion gap in the pension system before the next legislature is sworn in.
Voter turnout in Hyde Park and Bronzeville was better than the city as a whole. In the Fourth Ward, 88.3 percent of the 28,913 registered voters cast ballots. In the Fifth Ward, 83.7 of the 27,909 registered voters participated and in the Third Ward, 83.6 percent of the 29,737 voters participated. City wide, only 74.6 percent of the 1.3 million registered voters made their way to the polling places.
Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-1) received widespread support in Hyde Park, garnering 95.85 percent of the vote in the Fourth Ward, over Donald E. Peloquin’s 4.15 percent. In the Fifth Ward, Rush took 93.21 percent of the vote to Peloquin’s 6.79 percent. In the Third Ward Rush received 96.41 percent to Peloquin’s 3.59 percent of the vote.
Embattled Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2), who currently represents a small portion of Hyde Parkers, did win a clear victory over opponents Republican Brian Woodworth and independent Marcus Lewis. Jackson received 79.03 percent support locally, to Woodworth’s 4.06 percent and Lewis’ 16.91 percent.
Jackson is allegedly in discussions for a plea deal with the U.S. State’s Attorney’s office over his illegal use of campaign funds to redecorate his Washington, D.C. home and purchase a $40,000 Rolex watch as a gift for a female friend. The plea may end with Jackson’s resignation. If Jackson resigns a special election would be called over the vacant seat.
Jackson has been absent from congress since the summer, when his office told constituents he was being treated for exhaustion. Jackson’s office later admitted he was seeking treatment from the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder and depression.
Rep. Danny Davis (D-7) took 96.1 percent of the total votes cast in the Third Ward, beating out opponent Rita Zak. Davis had 96.6 percent of the total vote in the Fourth Ward.
Illinois state Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-3) took 96.2 percent of the vote in the Third Ward, beating opponent John H. Monaghan. In the Fourth Ward, Hunter took 88.5 percent of the vote, to Monaghan’s 11.5 percent.