reporter 3-12-24 rick ryan

Ryan moving on to face McGovern in 36th District

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By Jeff Vorva

Rick Ryan was asked to serve.

He agreed to serve.

All he has to do is convince enough people to allow him to serve.

He is halfway there. He earned the Democratic nomination for state representative in the 36th District on March 19 by beating Sonia Anne Khalil in the primary. The unofficial numbers, according to the Cook Country Clerk’s website, is Ryan with 4,945 votes (55.76%) to Khalil’s 3,923 (44.24%).

In Chicago’s 10 precincts in the district, Ryan received 1,732 votes to 1,029 for Khalil.

Ryan, a 57-year-old lawyer who is an Oak Lawn native who has lived in Evergreen Park for close to 30 years, now challenges Republican candidate Christine McGovern in November. McGovern, an Oak Lawn resident, had a more relaxing Tuesday as she ran unopposed.

Kelly Burke who was a mainstay in that position for close to 15 years did not run this time.  Burke, who is also the mayor of Evergreen Park, coaxed Ryan into running for the seat.

“I’m the guy that people go to when they want to get something done,” Ryan said. “I started coaching kids because they needed help when they were short coaches twenty some years ago.

“When the president of the baseball league stepped down and said, ‘we need somebody to step up — nobody wants this job,’ I did that. The booster club at the high school – same thing. It was a thankless job.”

So, is this a thankless job, too?

“I don’t know, I haven’t done it, yet,” he joked.

But he’s ready to get going if he can get by McGovern eight months from now.

One of his big concerns is rising crime and was not happy with outgoing Cook County State’s attorney Kim Foxx, who has been widely criticized for not prosecuting dangerous criminals.

Ryan said he has had a few conversations with state’s attorney candidate Eileen O’Neill Burke, who was leading for the Democratic nomination.

“We talked about some of those things and we’re both looking forward to hopefully planning out an attack on that,” Ryan said of combating crime. “We want criminals to be fearful of the justice system again instead of knowing that it’s not something they need to worry about anymore.”

This is Ryan’s second run for office. He ran for state senator in 2000 and lost to Patrick O’Malley. But he said he has helped others in their campaigns in various capacities.

Khalil was running for office for the first time in her career. The 34-year-old Stagg graduate who is an administrative services coordinator, is a cancer survivor whose top issues included standard and affordable medication.

“Over the last four months, I’ve had the honor of traveling the district and speaking with thousands of voters about issues affecting their everyday lives,” she said in a concession statement on March 19. “While we came up short today, I’m proud of this campaign and the message we sent that our community will not be taken for granted.”

The 36th District includes Southwest Side neighborhoods, plus southwest suburbs Chicago Ridge, Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn, Palos Heights, Palos Hills and Worth.

Burke has held the post since 2011. She picked up the most votes – 22,154 — to become a Democratic delegate for the 6th District at the Democratic National Convention this summer in Chicago.

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