Evergreen Park Democrat Kelly Burke easily cruised to her second term in the Illinois State House, beating Republican challenger Robert Shelstrom of Palos Park.
Burke carried Chicago’s 18th, 19th and 21st Ward precincts by 84 percent to Shelstrom’s 15 percent, with all but two precincts counted.
In the suburbs, Burke defeated Shelstrom by 64 percent of the vote, with 66 of 72 precincts counted for the Illinois State House’s 36th District seat.
Burke, who was headed into Quigley’s South Side Irish Pub in Oak Lawn to celebrate her victory with her family, said she hoped to have the opportunity to continue working to fix the state’s fiscal mess in her second term.
“I spent a lot of time on the budget trying to get state’s finances in order,” Burke said. “The state legislature as a whole has tried to make that their focus. The state can’t expand or do better until we get the budget under control.”
The triumphant Democrat said she spent most of Tuesday standing outside in the rain in front of a Palos Park polling place, greeting voters in the newly drawn 36th District.
“I’m ready for hot shower and bed,” she said.
Shelstrom congratulated Burke on her victory, saying she ran a highly organized campaign under Worth Township’s Democratic Committeeman John O’Sullivan.
“We gave her a big shot and walked out and did what we had to do,” the Palos Park Republican said. “She is a very formidable candidate.”
Shelstrom said that Burke would be his representative for the first time. Before the state legislative map was redrawn, his area was in the 35th State House District.
“The bottom line is she said a lot of things on her questionnaires for the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times about what’s she’s going to do about pension reform and bringing new businesses and jobs to the state and I’m going to hold her to those.”
During the race, Shelstrom said he walked 20 miles every weekend knocking on doors and handing out campaign literature.
“On the positive side I’ve lost 30 pounds since Labor Day,” Shelstrom said.
While on his weekend walks he was unaware of the degree of suffering in communities throughout the 36th District.
“Just about every block had two or three empty houses,” he said. “It wasn’t like they refinanced. These were people who lost their jobs or second jobs in the family and can’t support a modest home anymore.”
Shelstrom said he would continue to be involved in political life.
The 36th District serves Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn, Chicago Ridge, Hickory Hills, Palos Hills as well as some of Chicago’s 18th, 19th and 21st wards.
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