25 years of Chicago: Amplified
1983 1993 1994 2001 2003 2004 2005 2015
Historic Election Night


Explore the moment.
Election night 1983, just before midnight... Harold Washington and Bernie Epton are neck and neck in a heated race for Chicago Mayor. In the 4th Ward, Tim Evans (then an alderman, now Cook County's Chief Judge) faces off against Toni Preckwinkle (today's current Cook County Board President). WBEZ's Bruce DuMont, Carolyn Grisko and Dan Parker host live coverage from Washington and Epton Headquarters and the Board of Elections. They check in with reporters such as Lerner Newspapers Greg Hinz (now a columnist with Crain's) and the Southtown Economist's Ray Hanania. Hear two hours of live election coverage, including the complete audio of Harold Washington's victory speech.
Greg Hinz: "These are times that make political editors like me turn gray. I'm sitting here trying to write a story that has to go into the paper tomorrow morning and I'm on a deadline and I gotta say who's going to win!"
11m 47s
Greg Hinz: One of the keys to this thing is the lakefront vote. If you remember: Harold Washington got 23% of the lakefront vote in the primary. Everybody predicted if he got somewhere in the lower to mid-40s in the general election, he would win. Well, by my figures, with just a few precincts out, Harold Washington's got 42% of the vote. Enough to make it a squeaker. Maybe enough to put him over the top. Maybe just a smidgen short. We're gonna find out.
12m 05s
Carolyn Grisko:

Bruce DuMont is here, political analyst for WBEZ. Host of Inside Politics on Thursday nights. And we are Inside Politics here on this Tuesday night...

Bruce DuMont:

...We may still be here on Thursday night...

Carolyn Grisko:

... At the rate we're going Bruce, we may well be. We knew it was going to be a long evening. It's only 11:30 p.m. By primary standards, the night is still young. I'm afraid we still have some time to go.

16m 03s
2nd Ward:

Bobby Rush defeats William Barnett.

4th Ward:

Toni Reed Preckwinkle vs. Tim Evans: "Looks like incumbent Tim Evans, independent candidate there, has quite a comfortable lead over independent challenger Toni Reed Preckwinkle."

7th Ward:

Chicago Police Officer William Beavers defeats Raymond Castro, who misses out on becoming Chicago's first elected Hispanic council member.

9th Ward:

Perry Hutchinson defeats Robert Shaw.

12th Ward:

Aloysius Majerczyk and Theodore Swinarski are very close.

15th Ward:

Ald. Frank Brady duking it out with Michael Hogan.

16th Ward:

The city's first female African-American Alderman Anna Langford reclaims her seat from incumbent Ald. Eloise Barden.

16m 48s
WBEZ's Sam Conman in the 4th Ward: Toni Preckwinkle vs. Tim Evans: "At the end of the campaign there was some scurrilous literature circulated that her campaign manager showed me. Ward boundaries were newly drawn and took in the northern part of Hyde Park. And there was some literature circulated there. Both candidates are black. Preckwinkle, the literature was saying she was going to make the lakefront lillywhite. And also accusing her of sleeping with whites. But at any rate she lost. But she put up a pretty good fight considering she was going against a ten year alderman."
19m 51s
Bernie Epton: "We're not going to say anything... but I think that when we finally leave this hotel, you will have the next mayor of Chicago."
1h 24m 35s
Ald. Tim Evans: "I think the future looks very bright. This city's on the threshold of greatness with the advent of the election of Harold Washington... I'm looking forward to working with him and I think my colleagues in the council will work with him as well."
25m 39s
Bruce DuMont: "I just spoke to a highly placed source within the Epton campaign. Epton's deputy campaign manager says it's going to be very very very close. A cliffhanger. One that potentially will have recount possibilities to it."
39m 31s

Harold Washington:You want Harold? Well, heeeere's Harold!

Tonight we are here to celebrate a resounding victory. We have fought a good fight. We have finished our course. And we have kept the faith. We fought that good fight. We fought it, with unseasoned weapons and a phalanx of people who mostly have never been involved in a political campaign before. This has truly been a pilgrimage. Our government will be moving forward as well, including more people, and more kinds of people, than any government in the history of Chicago.

Today, Chicago has seen the bright daybreak for this city and for perhaps this entire country. The whole nation is watching as Chicago sent a powerful message!

Out of the crucible of this city's most trying election, carried on the tide of the most massive voter turnout in Chicago's history. Blacks. Whites. Hispanics. Jews. Gentiles. Protestant and Catholics of all stripes have joined hands to form a new democratic coalition. And to begin in this place a new democratic movement.

The talents and dreams of our citizens and neighborhoods will nourish our government the way it should be cherished, feed into the moving river of mankind.

And we have kept the faith in ourselves as decent, caring people who gather together as a part of something greater than themselves. We never stopped believing that we were a part of something good and something that had never happened before. We intend to revitalize and rebuild this city: To open its doors and be certain that its babies are healthy, and its old people are fed and well-housed. We intend that our city will grow again and bring prosperity to all of its citizens. We have been victorious. But I am mindful that there are many other friends and neighbors who were not a part of our campaign. But that's alright! That's alright! That's alright! You never get 'em all. That's why we have a democracy. Because there are many opinions in a city as diverse and multi-ethnic as the City of Chicago.

To those who supported me, I offer my deepest thanks. I will initiate your reforms. But I charge each and every one of you to rededicate your efforts to heal the divisions that have plagued us. Each of us must reach out in open arms. Together we will overcome our problems and restore Chicago to its proper position as one of the most dynamic cities in all the world.

To those of you, wherever you are, who have opposed this election. I assure you that I understand your needs and your desires. I know that I can rely on you in your assistance and cooperation. Chicago is one city. We must work as one people for our common good and our common goals.

Our politics is strong and vigorous. And it indicates that we are on the verge of a vibrant growth and development here. I want to reach out my hand in friendship and fellowship to every living soul in this city. The healing that we seek, the healing we are winning, is economic, it's social and more. It includes justice and love. Not just for ourselves as an individual alone. But for all, all, all in this city.

Our most important concern at this moment is unity. Tomorrow we will begin with a prayer breakfast. It will be a symbol. That our gathering together includes all Chicagoans. I intend to lead a prayer for our continued united and great success as a great city. I can't tell you how happy I am.

History was made tonight!

And this history has been coming up on the horizon. It's been talked about in our streets and homes. But there's nothing like victory to make an old track man like me glad that he dared to enter this race.

A great adventure has begun right here. I am so proud to be a part of that great adventure. I am so humbled by the fact that you have seen fit to give me the responsibility to lead that adventure.

I did nothing during that campaign that will make it difficult for me to govern this city with fairness and justice to all.

So to all of you here, and who worked so hard for this day. And to all of you out there, who worked so hard for this day, but are not here. And to all of you all over this country, who wished us well, who sent us some of your children to work with us and pray for us. God bless you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

1h 35m 47s