Will Urlacher's mayoral write-in campaign prevail in Mettawa? Time will tell

  • Casey Urlacher

    Casey Urlacher

  • Jess Ray

    Jess Ray

Updated 4/8/2021 7:43 PM

While winners can confidently be declared in most of the April 6 consolidated election races, the Mettawa mayor contest between incumbent Casey Urlacher and former mayor Jess Ray might not be known until next week.

The reason for the delay? Urlacher is running as a write-in candidate.


Lake County Clerk Robin O'Connor said her goal is for write-in ballots to be counted and uploaded to her office's website by Tuesday if not earlier.

Mettawa, a village of about 550 residents, has a history of close contests. Ray, who served as mayor from 2009 to 2013, said Thursday he had to wait 14 days after the 2009 election to find out that he'd won by three votes.

"It's easier this time around," Ray said of the waiting.

Urlacher, currently serving his second term as mayor of Mettawa, was facing federal gambling charges last year and did not file nominating petitions with the village clerk in December, keeping his name off the April 6 ballot.

But on Jan. 19, he was pardoned by then-President Donald Trump, and soon after Urlacher launched a reelection bid as a write-in candidate.

Ray, whose was the only name on the ballot for Mettawa mayor Tuesday, received 104 votes. That includes 22 votes cast on Election Day, 36 made during early voting and 46 vote-by-mail ballots, according to the Lake County clerk's website.

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Ray said it's hard to know whether his current total will hold up. He said it could depend on how legibly residents wrote his opponent's name.

"I don't know if they would throw some out," Ray said.

Successful write-in bids are hard to come by: O'Connor said the last time a write-in candidate won a race in Lake County, not counting occasions where there were no names on the ballot, was in 2005 when write-in candidate Bill Goodman earned 1,412 votes and a term as Shields Township Highway Commissioner on the North Shore.

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