DeKalb voters choose new mayor with little …

By Tyler Vincent, Libby John, and Todd Krysiak

After four years out of the political spotlight, former DeKalb mayor Greg Sparrow resumed his old position Tuesday, defeating incumbent Bessie Chronopoulos by 161 votes.

The election was tallied at a 51-to-49 percent margin, with Sparrow receiving 3,568 votes and Chronopoulos 3,407.

“I’m ecstatic,” Sparrow said. “I want to thank everyone in DeKalb who was involved. It’s been a long night. I just want to take in the moment.”

Chronopoulos defeated Sparrow by 49 votes in the 1997 mayoral race.

“I’d like to thank my wife and my family for allowing me to do this,” Sparrow said, speaking to a lively crowd of about 150 supporters at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 1336 E. Lincoln Highway. “This was a hard-fought battle up to the final days. I told my wife Jenny to hang on, but I think the people are behind me.”

Among those in attendance were senior Luke Coyne, a DeKalb Liquor Commission member and failed 6th Ward write-in candidate, and Student Association President Ken Getty.

Sparrow, who works as community developmental coordinator at Kishwaukee Community College, credited the three student wards for his victory.

“If I didn’t have the vote off campus, I wouldn’t have gotten it,” he said. “That tells me once and for all that the students are involved in the make-up of DeKalb. And if they weren’t, they are now.”

The post-election festivities were interrupted when Winnie Sparrow, the candidate’s mother, was taken to the hospital. Campaign worker Michael LaPidus said she was complaining of lower back pain and nausea. Sparrow accompanied his mother to the hospital.

Meanwhile, at the Hopkins Park-based Chronopoulos camp, about 60 supporters watched somberly as their incumbent was defeated. A silence ensued as the official tallies were released from the elections commission.

Chronopoulos took the news calmly.

“I have run a consistent candidacy,” Chronopoulos said. “I have been straight-forward, not pulled any punches and haven’t sold my soul. Becoming mayor wasn’t even in my plans when I served on the city council, but I did it for the city — the city I love.”

Chronopoulos also offered some pointed words for her opponent.

“Several years ago, I was discussing philosophy with Greg Sparrow and discovered that we had very different opinions on how to run a city government,” she said. “I told him that I think it’s OK that you’ve been running around [Washington] D.C. and Springfield being the mayor above everyone else, but if I ever feel that you are putting this city in jeopardy that I would come after you. That’s exactly what we did four years ago. Four years ago, we came after him.

“I wish Sparrow well, don’t get me wrong, but I hope that he understands very well that 3,000-plus votes did not go to him, and those people need to be listened to.”

Chronopoulos said that after making the governmental transition, she plans to relax and become involved in community organizations she spent limited time with over the last four years.