One of five candidates for the Ward 9 seat on the Aurora City Council has jumped out of the race.
Michael Ochs announced his decision to pull out just as voters were preparing to go to the polls for Tuesday's primary election to narrow the field for the April 9 general election to two candidates seeking to represent the ward on the city's far southeast side.
Ochs' departure leaves four candidates in the running -- Edward Bugg, Matt Harrington, Marge Linnane and Bob Shelton.
Ochs will remain on the ballot but said Monday he is now backing Harrington for the seat and will be doing some last-minute campaigning on his behalf.
Ochs said he made his decision Sunday night, hours after speaking to election officials and days after a recent candidate forum in which he said Harrington "impressed the (heck) out of" him.
"(Harrington) has every bit the passion and desire I have to make Aurora a better place," Ochs said Monday. "But he just has this incredibly broad-based focus of our entire ward, all the while living just 12 houses down from me."
Ochs said he has held the seat in high regard since he last opposed former alderman LeRoy Keith and later tried to be appointed to Keith's seat after Keith resigned to take a job in another state.
"I've had my eye on this for a long time and I've devoted time and passion to it," Ochs said. "But I had to make a judgment call and I am 100 percent convinced (Harrington) is the more perfect fit for our city at this time."
Harrington said he was surprised that one of his biggest supporters was, just days earlier, battling him at a candidate forum.
"I'm humbled and honored that Michael thinks enough of me that he was able to approach me, have that conversation and hitch all of his support onto me," Harrington said. "I've been in politics for 30 years and I've never seen anything like it. How can you articulate your thanks in a proper manner? I'm over the moon about it."
Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday as Aurora voters in city council wards 9 and 4 narrow the field of candidates to two in each race.
In addition to the race in Ward 9, seven candidates are vying for two spots on the April 9 ballot in Ward 4, which mainly lies in Kane County west of the Fox River but also includes a sizable section east of the river and south of downtown.
The field in that ward features Mavis Bates, William "Bill" Donnell, Duanne Kleckner, James "Jay" Leonardi, Mike "Leo" Leonardi, Kevin Mathews and Charles "Chuck" Norris.
To find polling place locations in Kane, Kendall and Will counties, visit auroravotes.org or call the Aurora Election Commission at (630) 897-4030. For DuPage County polling place information, visit dupageco.org/election or call (630) 407-5600.