With nearly all votes tallied – some mail-in ballots are still outstanding — two Triton College challengers are leading races for open board seats.
In the three-person race to fill the last two years of a board seat vacated last year, challenger Norma Hernandez led appointed incumbent Lisa Bickel by roughly 100 votes — 11,884 to 11,989.
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, is well ahead of the pack.
As of April 13, Jennings had around 33 percent of the vote, or 18,043 votes, far ahead of powerful Triton Board Chairman Mark Stephens, who had 26 percent of the vote, or 14,252 votes. Incumbent board member and Oak Park attorney Luke Casson was trailing Stevens by just 46 votes. Challenger Andrew Charles Kopinski had around 14 percent of the vote, or 7,548 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.”