Incumbent Sen. Joyce victorious in 40th District race

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The District 40 Democratic race Tuesday ended in victory for incumbent State Sen. Patrick Joyce. He will face Republican Eric M. Wallace in the November general election to retain the seat he was appointed to in November 2019.

Joyce, of Essex, was selected to replace former Sen. Toi Hutchinson who resigned to take a position overseeing Illinois’ recreational cannabis program. 

A Kankakee County farmer whose parents were both Illinois senators, Joyce faced three Democratic challengers Tuesday: Monica Gordon, Marta Perales and Lori Wilcox. These same candidates interviewed for the position in November 2019 with Joyce.

The 40th District represents portions of Bradley, Bourbonnais, Kankakee, Peotone, Olympia Fields, Chicago Heights, Homewood, Flossmoor and University Park. 

Joyce easily defeated his opponents in Kankakee County, where he received 64.54 percent of the votes. Trailing behind his 4,691 votes were Wilcox with 15.19 percent (1,104), Gordon with 14.09 percent (1,024) and Perales with 6.18 percent (449). Across the district, he had claimed 46 percent (or 10,275 votes) when more than 90 percent of precincts had been reported Tuesday night.

Joyce campaigned on providing property tax relief via school funding, improving healthcare coverage — particularly when it comes to affordable prescription drugs — and remedying the “long overdue needs” of the Kankakee River.

“It’s paramount that we get some sort of plan [for the Kankakee River],” he said. “It’s something that’s been going on for 40 years. Indiana is starting to step up to the plate a little bit on their share, and it’s something that I want our state and our county to do their share.”

Joyce said he was relieved to reach the conclusion of his primary campaign, as his schedule has been packed for several months in preparation for Tuesday’s primary election.

“Between the meetings that you have for the campaign and the meetings that you have as a legislator, I’ve been full throttle since November,” he said.

Joyce said voter turnout seemed low when he visited polling sites in the 40th District, as many would-be voters stayed home due to coronavirus concerns.

“It depends on what’s on the ballot also,” he said. “It seems like Kankakee was a little lower, and Bradley, maybe because of the referendum, seemed a little higher, but it’s a little all-over-the-board.”

Gordon, of Flossmoor, said early Tuesday that she expected to finish strong in the race, but the quietness heard at polling locations was worrisome.

“I do think that’s an advantage for the incumbent, a low turnout,” she said. “So that’s very concerning to me.”

Gordon said she is proud of the work she and her team did for her first campaign, and she encourages anyone who believes they can make a significant change to “go for it.”

“I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything,” she said. “It was very challenging, there were ups and there were downs, but it was a very unique experience that I will always treasure.”

Gordon serves as executive director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation.

Perales, a former legislative affairs director for Metra, and Wilcox, City Clerk of Chicago Heights, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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March 18, 2020 at 12:52AM

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