Chicago must hold a mayoral election next year to fill the two years remaining of the term of the late Mayor Harold Washington, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled yesterday. The high court ruled without dissent, saying that a reading of state election law, along with the state law governing municipalities, requires that a special election be held to fill a vacancy that occurs with more than 28 months left on a four-year term.
Mayor Washington, the city's first black mayor, died of a heart attack Nov. 25, 1987, with 3 years left in his second term.
``The scheme recognizes the importance of the voters not to have a mayoral appointee who is not of their own choosing for more than 28 months,'' Justice Joseph Cunningham wrote in the court's opinion. A lower court ruling has already called for a primary Feb. 28, followed by a general election April 4.
The decision was eagerly awaited by a crowded field of announced and unannounced mayoral candidates. Unannounced candidates include the incumbent acting mayor, Eugene Sawyer, and front runner Richard Daley, who were both said to be awaiting the ruling before announcing their candidacy.