With nearly all votes tallied – some mail-in ballots are still outstanding — two Triton College incumbents are narrowly holding leads while challengers were having strong showings.
In the three-person race to fill the last two years of a board seat vacated last year, appointed incumbent Lisa Bickel has 39.43 percent of the vote, or 11,466 votes. That puts Bickel just ahead of challenger Norma Hernandez, who has 38.38 percent of the vote, or 11,142 votes. Meanwhile, challenger Carolyn R. Wilhight has 22.19 percent of the vote, or 6,443 votes.
In the four-person race for two full-term seats on the Triton board, challenger Tracy Jennings, a Westchester pastor and former Congressional candidate, has well ahead of the pack.
As of Wednesday morning, Jennings had 33.16 percent of the vote, or 17,047 votes, far ahead of powerful Triton Board Chairman Mark Stephens, who had 26.60 percent of the vote, or 13,676 votes, and incumbent board member and Oak Park attorney Luke Casson, who had 26.15 percent of the vote, or 13,444 votes. Challenger Andrew Charles Kopinski had 14.09 percent of the vote, or 7,244 votes.
When reached by phone late Tuesday, Jennings said he was cautiously optimistic about the results and wasn’t taking a victory for granted. He said his strong showing stemmed, in significant part, from his Congressional run.
In 2020, Jennings challenged sitting Congressman Danny K. Davis in the 7th District Congressional race. Running as an Independent, Jennings garnered more than 19,000 votes.
“I think the Congressional run gave me the tools I needed to run this race,” Jennings said. “That was one of the greatest experiences of my life, to be honest — just understanding how to break a district down and really use social media.”
Jennings said his son, Reggie Jennings, handled his social media campaigning, which he said made the difference.
“My opponents were getting yard signs and I couldn’t afford to do that, so I ran on Facebook and Instagram. We got lots of feedback from residents in places like Norridge, Park Ridge and Rosemont.”
Jennings said, if his lead holds and he’s elected to the Triton board, the first thing he’ll do is “spread the message of how valuable Triton is. I don’t think a lot of people in our district really understand how valuable Triton is in being able to afford a college education.”