Hairston faces runoff; Calloway will be runoff foe

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) jubilantly addresses supporters at her watch party after finishing first in the voting, but she still faces a runoff. (Photo by Marc Monaghan)

Staff Writer

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) apparently came up short of winning a sixth term outright. As of press time, with 38 out of 41 precincts reporting, she took 48.65 percent of the vote and probably will face activist William Calloway in the April 2 runoff election.

But she struck a positive, fighting note in brief remarks to supporters at her returns party on 71st Street, just a stone’s throw from where Calloway and third-place finisher Gabriel Piemonte were gathering.

“It looks like we’re going to be in a runoff, but this isn’t my first runoff!” she said. “I will take this, and I will remind the people of the 5th Ward what I have done and what I have brought to the ward. I am not about to let somebody else take credit for all the work that I have been doing. I am not going away.”

“I am so proud and so grateful for all of the work that you’ve done, but I’m getting ready to ask you to keep going,” she told her supporters. “We are ready for this challenge.”

Hairston has faced scrutiny on several fronts: for consistently voting in support of outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s initiatives, for her lack of support for the proposed Obama Presidential Center community benefits agreement, for her handling of last summer’s police shooting of barber Harith “Snoop” Augustus in South Shore; among others.

She said has pushed the Obama Foundation to commit to local workforce development; she has steadfastly supported the OPC through its community engagement efforts and its associated ordinances in City Hall. She helped organize a community meeting in the immediate aftermath of the sudden closing of the Treasure Island supermarket last summer.

Hairston has represented the 5th Ward in City Council since 1999 and is a member of the Progressive Reform, Black and Women’s caucuses. An attorney with a background in appellate law, she was reelected with 53 percent of the vote in 2015 against five other candidates and lives in South Shore.

“You know last go-around, they said, ‘You don’t have a grocery store,’” she said of the much-anticipated supermarket coming to South Shore. “Now I have a grocery store. We can still move. We’re not switching quarterbacks in the middle of the game. I have been the one who has got us this far, and I am the one who’s going to take us into the future where we need to go.”