Democrat takes Maine Township office after recount

A Democrat was sworn in as a Maine Township trustee for the first time in a decade Monday night, despite an effort by Republicans to keep her out of office.

Park Ridge Democrat Claire McKenzie took the oath of office alongside Republicans who last week sought a discovery recount of ballots cast in the April election. McKenzie beat incumbent Republican Trustee Kelly Schaefer by 49 votes - less than 1 percent of voters.

Candidates in closely contested races can request a discovery recount to determine whether errors occurred in counting votes. The findings can be used in court cases aimed at reversing results.

After Cook County clerk's office employees spent two days last week examining and manually counting ballots in a quarter of the precincts, the results remained the same, said state Sen. Laura Murphy, the Maine Township Democratic committeewoman.

Murphy criticized the discovery recount.

"I think they have to accept that the voters have spoken and this is the result," Murphy said. "I think it's a waste of taxpayers' dollars but they have the legal right to do it."

Maine Township Republicans paid $230 for the recount, equal to $10 per precinct examined.

Nick Shields, a spokesman for the clerk's office, said costs for conducting discovery recounts are built into election budgets. Two employees spent two days in Maine Township to oversee the process, Shields said.

Discovery recounts are not uncommon after consolidated elections, which are often close, Shields said. But the findings from a discovery recount have not been taken to court in at least a decade, he said.

Republican Township Supervisor Laura Morask did not return a phone call Tuesday. Morask, who was previously a trustee, was sworn in as the new supervisor Monday.

More than 150 friends and supporters attended to watch 12th Subcircuit Court Judge James Pieczonka also swear in Clerk Peter Gialamas, Assessor Susan Moylan Krey, Highway Commissioner Walter Kazmierczak and trustees Kimberly Jones, David A. Carrabotta and Susan Kelly Sweeney.

12th Subcircuit Court Judge James Pieczonka administers the oath of office for Maine Township Supervisor Laura Morask on Monday. Courtesy of Maine Township
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