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Langfelder Wins Second Term

Dana Vollmer
NPR Illinois
Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder was elected to a second term. Pictured here with his wife, Billie, and their children.

Springfield voters gave Mayor Jim Langfelder a second term Tuesday.

He won out over Frank Edwards, a former alderman and fire chief, getting around 58% of the vote.

Langfelder touted the successes of his term through financial challenges, while Edwards highlighted what he said were growing crime rates and a struggle to attract jobs to the city.

Incumbent candidates did well on the rest of the ballot, too. City Clerk Frank Lesko survived another race against Rianne Hawkins, this time winning by a larger margin. Meanwhile, Treasurer Misty Buscher defeated Jennifer Notariano by a 42-point margin.

Langfelder will continue working with largely the same city council. In eight out of ten wards, incumbents won their seats. That includes Ward 1 Ald. Chuck Redpath, Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner, Ward 4 Ald. John Fulgenzi, Ward 5 Ald Andrew Proctor, Ward 6 Ald. Kristin DiCenso, Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin, Ward 9 Ald. Jim Donelan, and Ward 10 Ald. Ralph Hanauer.

Erin Conley will fill the open seat in Ward 8, vacated by Kris Theilen, who won a seat on the Springfield Park Board.

The race in Ward 2 was too close to call at the end of Election Night, though Ward 2 Ald. Herman Senor did not get enough votes to win it. The two front-runners, former alderwoman and mayoral candidate Gail Simpson and William “Shawn” Gregory, who works at Green Family Stores, are separated by one vote. A recount in that race is likely.

Mayor’s Race

Family and an optimistic view of Springfield were at the center of the Langfelder campaign.

“Really, our brighter days are ahead, and that’s what it’s all about,” he told supporters at the Hilton Garden Inn in Springfield.

That view contrasted with Edwards - a former alderman and fire chief — who offered a dire picture of crime, and jobs and people leaving the city. When reached on Tuesday night, Edwards said Springfield would need to continue to grapple with those issues.

“You can beat up if you want to on the messenger, I kind of get that a little bit,” he said. “But that's still the problems in our community that we need to solve.”

He blamed his loss on low voter turnout among Republicans, which he is. The municipal races are technically nonpartisan.

Turnout appeared to be down overall, according to preliminary numbers from the Sangamon County Clerk’s office. Around 27,000 people voted in 2015, compared to 25,000 this year.

Still, Langfelder, a Democrat, said he appreciated Edwards for running and bringing up those concerns.

“It’s easy to get complacent and we have our challenges are ahead,” he said.

Tricia Copeland - a retired district 186 teacher - cast her ballot Tuesday morning.

“The mayor’s race was a tough one for me,” she said.

She said though Edwards isn’t always the most polished, she likes that he’s passionate. Still, she ended up voting for Langfelder.

“Hopefully he keeps things moving along that are going along. I think there’s occasionally something to be said for incumbents, just because of the smooth transition,” she said.

Earlier in the day, at South Side Christian Church on MacArthur Boulevard, Mariah Shaver, an attorney, voted for Langfelder. She said she seems him at events and it’s clear he supports the community.

“We don’t necessarily have all the same views on all the same topics,” she said. “I did end up voting for him because I didn’t have another candidate that I felt was going to do better.”

Meanwhile, Peggy Fish cast her ballot for Edwards, and said her decision came down to personality.

“Frank’s got a big personality,” she said. “I just like the issues he has to bring Springfield forward in the next century.”

That includes his stance on jobs and economic development. Fish said she is a Republican, but was a big fan of the late Ossie Langfelder, who served as mayor in the late 1980s and early 1990s and is the current mayor's father.

“You can’t go wrong with either one of them in my book,” she said.

Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray said voting had gone smoothly, though turnout was on the lighter side. That could be because more people have taken advantage of early voting this election than the last one in 2015.

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