State Rep. Mary Flowers, who has served 33 years in office, will return for another term as the Democratic state representative of the 31st District after defeating Willie Preston in the primary race Tuesday night.
Flowers, who began her career in 1985, defeated Preston, who was running for political office for the first time. With the decisive victory, Flowers will return as state rep since no Republicans ran in the primary.
According to the unofficial totals tabulated Tuesday night, Flowers recorded a decisive victory in Chicago and the southwest suburbs. In the city, with 67 of 73 precincts reporting late Tuesday night, Flowers captured 82 percent with 8,698 votes to Preston's 17 percent with 1,812 votes. In the southwest suburbs, with 38 of 39 precincts reporting, Flowers had 83 percent with 4,012 votes to Preston's nearly 17 percent with 820 votes.
Flowers, 66, had not faced any competition in years. She admitted that it was an unfamiliar role for her, but said she was fine with facing the challenge. Flowers said she was gratified with the response she has received from constituents from Chicago and the southwest suburbs. The large and diverse district extends as far east as Chicago's Englewood neighborhood and as far west as Palos Hills.
"I am so thankful to my constituents because they spoke clearly and loudly," Flowers said. "It's quite obvious that my constituents appreciate the job I have done. I had an opponent and that was different. But I didn't do anything differently that I have in the past. You know I made some calls and knocked on some doors. Most people welcomed me and told me they liked the job I was doing."
Preston, 32, believed the district was lacking in development and focused on that issue during his first campaign. However, during a phone call Tuesday night, he said the people have spoken.
"She has an insurmountable lead and the voters have made their decision," Preston said. "But we're very proud of what we have done. I respect our democracy. Right now I'm going to reflect and talk to my family about the future. We have more to do."
Both Flowers and Preston are in agreement that they would like to see more Democrats win in November, and each congratulated J.B. Pritzker for his victory over Daniel Biss and Chris Kennedy in the race for governor. Gov. Bruce Rauner registered a narrow victory over state Rep. Jeanne Ives in the Republican primaryTuesday night.
"Right now, we are backing the Democratic ticket," Preston said, who was then asked if he will remain active in politics.
"You can expect it," Preston said.
Flowers acknowledged that more needs to be done for development and create jobs in the 31st District, a theme of Preston during his campaign.
"But one of the reasons is that Gov. Rauner has not given us a budget to help people," Flowers said. "But we helped to provide jobs and plans for infrastructure. But there are more things the constituents want besides development. They want better schools and better health care. They want an end to opioid addictions. So, I'm going to continue to serve the constituents of this district. That's exactly what I'm going to continue to do."
Flowers was the lone Democratic local legislator to face a competitor in the primary. State Sen. Bill Cunningham (18th) and state representatives Andre Thapedi (32nd), Fran Hurley (35th) and Kelly Burke (36th) were all unopposed.