During the last few weeks, it looked as though voters of the 5th state legislative district were torn as to who they wanted to lead them.
At 8:52 p.m. the results appeared indisputable with 82 percent of the precincts accounted for. Watkins had 55 percent of the vote and Collins had 45 percent. Final election results from the Chicago Board of Elections showed Watkins to be the winner with 54 percent of the vote.
Although all the ballots had not been counted, the celebration had already begun at the Billy Goat Tavern and Grill on West Madison Street where supporters of Watkins gathered.
Watkins pointed out that Billy Goats Tavern was where it all started.
“I kicked off my campaign here,” she said just before grabbing Tavern owner Sam Sianis for a quick picture.
“I feeling pretty good right now, we are half way there,” said Watkins while waiting for the results to populate. “I’ve had a lot of support throughout the race, constituents said they were glad I didn’t go away.
Watkins, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Chicago last year, has maintained her supporters throughout the Senate race, many of which were present at the election festivities.
“The best thing she could have done was run for mayor, that helped build her status with the community,” said Leon Porter, a seven-year West Loop resident and Watkins volunteer.
“Collins got too comfortable in her position, she wasn’t in the in the community, she stayed away,” said Porter.
Less than a mile away on West Randolph Street, a few Collins supporters were at the bar, with less than five people on the second floor of the venue.
Collins was appointed to the senate seat after former Sen. Rickey Hendon abruptly retired. Before being appointed as state senator, she served as 10th district State Representative for five terms. She has recently been accused of illegally claiming homeowner exemptions while living outside the district and abusing the state’s legislative scholarship program.
“There are still a lot of precincts out there,” said Keith, a resident of over 12 years and Collins supporter while waiting for the final results. “I knew it would be tight from start to finish.”
Another Collins supporter, Franshuan Myles said “it’s tight but she will pull through…the opponent fought dirty you know, but Annazette was above that.”
“Its great to have a sense of integrity, God honors that,” said Dawn Hendon a former West Side resident and friend of Collins.
Collins had not shown up at the location and neither had any of her staff members as of 9:30 p.m.
Back at the Watkins celebration, Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) joined the celebration.
“Were going to win it, it looks good,” he said, just before grabbing an older woman’s hand and began dancing.
Watkins said that when she wins, the first thing she’ll do is go back and thank the people. She said she planned to do that Wednesday morning.