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Absentee ballots could play role in 4th Ward primary

Bill Donnell 4th Ward aldermanic candidate. | Submitted photo

Bill Donnell, 4th Ward aldermanic candidate. | Submitted photo

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The vote totals for Tuesday’s primary election in Aurora’s 4th Ward; the top two vote-getters will advance to the April 9 general election:

William Donnell — 247

Mavis A. Bates — 202

James “Jay” Leonardi — 194

Charles Norris — 159

Mike “Leo” Leonardi — 71

Duanne Kleckner — 49

Kevin Mathews — 30

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Updated: April 1, 2013 11:54AM

AURORA — With the possibility of absentee ballots still not counted, Aurora’s 4th Ward primary race is too close to call, top contenders said Wednesday.

Although 4th Ward candidate Bill Donnell sailed through to the April 9 ballot with 247 votes, or 26 percent of the vote, candidates Mavis Bates and Jay Leonardi agree that the second ballot spot is still undecided.

By current Aurora Election Commission numbers, Bates leads Leonardi by a mere 8 votes; Bates totaled 202 votes in Tuesday’s primary, while Leonardi received 194 votes.

But Bates and Leonardi said Wednesday that they’ve been told by Aurora Election Commission officials that there are 20 to 22 requested absentee ballots still out in the ward.

“There were 21 ballots requested, and they don’t have to send them in until the day of the election,” said Bates, chairman of the Aurora Township Democrats.

That’s led to a scenario where both candidates were frantically calling their 4th Ward supporters Wednesday to determine who may have sent in those absentee ballots.

“I talked to somebody today who knew of at least one that wasn’t sent in,” Bates said.

An Aurora Election Commission official said absentee ballots must have been postmarked by Tuesday’s primary election day, and be in the Election Commission’s possession by March 12.

The estimated two dozen absentee ballots still out “should make this interesting,” said Leonardi, a 20-year-old Waubonsee Community College student.

He was calling supporters early Wednesday morning.

“(Election Commission Executive Director) Linda (Fechner) told me that there were more absentee ballots out there, maybe 22, and I know I have a good amount of those ballots in my favor,” Leonardi said. “I don’t know that they’re all going to be mine, but I’m praying.”

He said supporters told him that four or five of those absentee ballots were cast for him.

“I’m waiting to hear back on another five more,” he said.

Despite the slim lead, Bates said that she’s confident the spot on the April 9 ballot will be hers.

“I’m in a little bit of limbo until March 12, but I’m going to go with it’s a done deal,” Bates said. “I can’t wait because time is marching on.”

But to be safe, she won’t host any major fundraisers until after March 12, she said.

Bates wasn’t surprised by the 12 percent voter turnout in the ward.

“When you’ve got six people — really seven because Kevin (Mathews) was still on the ballot — I thought it would be Bill Donnell, me and Jay, which it was,” Bates said. “It’s just a lot of people running for a very small number of votes.”

Leonardi said winter weather played a role in voter turnout on primary Tuesday.

“I was definitely surprised. I think everyone expected more of their voters to come out,” he said. “At the end of the day, I knocked on every single door in the 4th Ward.”

The other candidates in Tuesday’s primary were Mike “Leo” Leonardi, Duanne Kleckner and Chuck Norris.

Fechner could not be reached Wednesday.

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