Ward races pretty much over in 46th, 33rd — Cappleman OK, Mell not so much

It won’t be official until Thursday, but the latest results in the two closest aldermanic races make it a near certainty Ald. James Cappleman (46th) will be proclaimed the winner over Marianne Lalonde, while challenger Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez will be declared the victor over Ald. Deb Mell (33rd).

Although both races remain extremely close, there aren’t enough votes that remain uncounted to reverse the outcome — unless a large batch of ballots mysteriously arrive in Tuesday’s mail two full weeks after the election, which would set off quite the federal investigation.

After Monday’s count, Cappleman stretched his lead over Lalonde to 30 votes —7,079 to 7,049 — while Rodriguez Sanchez saw her lead over Mell shrink to 13 votes — 5,753 to 5,740.

The margins between the candidates have ebbed and flowed since Election Night as election officials continued counting late-arriving mail ballots, provisional ballots and military ballots.

Cappleman and Rodriguez Sanchez have remained in the lead throughout, but Lalonde and Mell haven’t conceded yet.

Top row: 33rd Ward aldermanic candidate Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, left, and Ald. Deb Mell in January; Bottom row: 46th Ward aldermanic candidate Marianne Lalonde, left, and Ald. James Cappleman. | File Photos by Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Ed Mullen, an attorney for Lalonde, said she plans to seek a discovery recount, a form of partial recount that allows a candidate to examine the results in one-fourth of the precincts in search of errors or irregularities.

Mell said she was waiting to talk to her attorney before deciding her next move.

The candidates could use evidence gathered from a discovery recount to try to overturn the election outcome in court. All four candidates in the 33rd and 46th wards filed suit in circuit court last week to contest the results if necessary.

But election experts say that even Mell’s narrow 13-vote deficit would be difficult to overcome given the low error rate involved with current voting equipment.

Mell’s defeat would bring to an end one of the Northwest Side’s longest-running and most colorful political dynasties.

Her father, Dick Mell, served as 33rd Ward alderman for 38 years from 1975 to 2013, when he stepped down, allowing for daughter Deb to be appointed in his place.

Deb Mell, who previously had served as a state representative, won election to the seat in 2015 in a similarly close contest, winning by 17 votes.

Dick Mell’s ward organization also birthed the political career of his son-in-law, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is married to his daughter Patti.

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