City Clerk candidate Susana Mendoza (center) chats with members of the Newberry Consort, a chamber music ensemble, who were having lunch at Wishbone restaurant, 1001 W. Washington st. on election day, Tues.. Feb. 22, 2011. (from left) David Douglass and Tiffany Goodman. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: March 22, 2011 5:59PM
With 98 percent of the precincts counted and a 20 percentage point lead over her opponent, state Rep. Susana Mendoza declared victory just before 9 p.m. Tuesday in her race against Water Reclamation District Commissioner Patricia Horton for the office of city clerk.
“I’m very excited and happy,” Mendoza said, “I’m excited to be working with the new mayor and the 50 alderman and all of the people of Chicago.”
“My message from the very beginning was that I plan to be a very independent clerk, that the office was created to be a check and balance on the mayor. But I am looking forward to working with the new administration and seeing what we can do to move the city forward. I will do everything I can within my power to help this city continue to be the greatest city in the world.”
Mendoza also said she was grateful that voters responded “to my commitment to be an independent voice and advocate on their behalf at city hall.”
Mendoza’s campaign manager, Brendan O’Sullivan, said that despite low overall turnout, Mendoza got strong support in the 19th Ward, which covers the Beverly neighborhood, and on the Northwest Side.
For most of the evening, Mendoza maintained about a 60-40 lead over her opponent.
Horton had not conceded at press time. She spent election day talking to voters at North and South Side L stations in the morning and also stopped at a couple of North Side restaurants. Regina Hollie, Horton’s campaign manager, had said earlier in the evening, “We expect to do well everywhere.”
Mendoza was not aligned with any of the mayoral candidates, but had backing from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ald. Edward Burke (14th), House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White.
A six-term state representative, Mendoza is a resident of Little Village, 38 and single.
She wants to bring in badly-needed cash for the city by selling ads on the back of city vehicle stickers, a move she believes could raise $15 million. She also wants to employ Twitter and other social media to let voters better see City Council ordinances and amendments when they are filed.
The 54-year-old Horton, a resident of Englewood, had said she wants to lower vehicle sticker fees; advocate for the reduction of red-light cameras; expand the type of parking permits to cover vehicles used for medical, service and business, and post more city information online.
Rather than sell advertising on city stickers, Horton favored selling ads on the city clerk’s website.
“We would put the responsibility on the city, not on forcing the average citizen to participate in promotions for a company he or she might not support.”
A former pastor and single mother of four, Horton was elected to the Water Reclamation District board in 2006 and serves on its public information and welfare committee. On that panel, she said, she has dealt with issues from prescription drugs in the water supply to Asian carp to illegal dumping.
Horton had been endorsed by state Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago), U.S. Reps. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), and Cook County Commissioner and lobbyist Lawrence Suffredin.
Mendoza spent part of her time election day chatting via Twitter with some of her more than 800 followers, thanking them for their support. “My tweeters ... I love & appreciate u guys!!! Thank u so much for ur help & belief in me. I’m very lucky & honored.”