March 31, 2023

Chicago Election: Preview of Several of the Key Aldermanic Runoff Races

By Ricardo Brum and Brielle Conwell

Board of Elections Lifts Campaign Contribution Limits on Race for 46th Ward as Dispute Intensifies

Following a 10 percentage-point victory in the Feb. 28 municipal election, community activist and organizer Angela Clay has rallied on public safety and housing affordability as her top two priorities headed into Tuesday’s aldermanic runoff elections.

Clay has advocated for the expansion of affordable housing, stating the community is relying on their next representative to step up on tackling issues of rising rent and property taxes in the ward. Over the past few weeks, Clay has received the endorsement of Ald. Maria Hadden (49th Ward), Illinois State Sen. Mike Simmons and the pro-choice political action committee PersonalPAC.

Clay’s opponent, Kim Walz, an executive liaison for Walgreens endorsed by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, has received the financial support of the Illinois REALTORS PAC, with contributions exceeding $40,000, and the Get Stuff Done PAC, which has been sponsoring her mailers.

A former aide to U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), Walz has campaigned on public safety, claiming to be the only candidate who plans to address the filling of vacant positions in the Police Department and delayed response times. Walz has criticized Clay’s proposed policies as akin to defunding the police, with the candidate’s campaign sending out mailers that label Clay as “just too radical.”

Full coverage: Coverage of the Feb. 28 municipal election

If we defund the police or disinvest in the police as my opponent has been talking about, that response time is even going to get longer, and we’re going to get fundamentally less safe in this city,” Walz told Marie Saavedra on CBS 2.

Effective March 21, the Illinois State Board of Elections lifted all imposed contribution limits on the race for the ward, after independent expenditures by Super PACs surpassed $100,000. The figure rose from contributions to the Walz campaign by the Illinois REALTORS Fund, the Get Stuff Done PAC and the INCS Action Independent Committee. As of March 14, Walz’s campaign had raised  $270,822, against $182,444 for Clay.

On Election Night, Clay received 36.13% of the vote (5,663) against Walz’s 25.83%, (4,048). Clay’s own internal polling shows the candidate leading Walz by a 9.6 percentage-point margin. Walz’s campaign has not shared any polling figures.

Google Trends search results for Angela Clay and Kim Walz in Chicago over the past 30 days.

48th Ward

The race is being disputed by affordable housing developer Joe Dunne, backed by current Ald. Harry Osterman, and small business owner and photographer Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth. Since Feb. 28, Dunne has campaigned on public safety, advocating for increased police presence on the ward’s streets and the reopening of closed storefronts, in order to establish a safer business district.

Manaa-Hoppenworth has campaigned on the revitalization of the ward, naming improvements on public transportation and long-term structural changes as her priorities, moving away from what the candidate has defined as short-term solutions that have been made so far.

Dunne’s campaign has raised a total of $142,373, against $66,696 of Manaa-Hoppenworth’s.

4th Ward

State Rep. Lamont Robinson and Prentice Butler, current Ald. Sophia King’s chief of staff, will face off on the April 4 runoff. On Feb. 28, Robison got 46% of votes in the ward, against 15.2% obtained by Butler.

If elected, Robinson plans to prioritize economic development, advocating for stronger commercial corridors as a way to improve public safety. The candidate wants to strengthen block clubs, committing to direct interaction with residents and more investments in the Invest South/West program.

Butler’s plans would fall in line with his predecessors’, supporting community development corporations to integrate programming that addresses economic, social and health issues. The candidate also supports teams of unarmed security professionals and violence interrupters patrol as effective deterrents of violence in the ward.

29th Ward

Incumbent Ald. Chris Taliafero nearly secured a victory on Feb. 28, with 49.75% of the vote in his favor, against the second-place candidate C.B. Johnson’s 39.83%. Johnson has campaigned on bringing demographically different regions of the ward together, by holding regular community meetings, revitalizing block clubs and investing in schools.

Shifting away from Ald. Taliafero’s participatory budgeting policy, where voters weigh in on how infrastructure-related projects’ funding is managed, Johnson plans to move the money directly to block clubs, and let them make the budgetary decisions.

45th Ward

The race will see challenger Megan Mathias face incumbent Ald. James Gardiner after the latter obtained 48% of total votes in the ward on Feb. 28. If elected, Mathias, an attorney and business owner, plans to change the ward’s leadership style to a more inclusive one, blaming the current divisive leadership style as a deterrent for progress in the ward.

Incumbent Ald. James Gardiner has been the subject of extensive controversy. Gardiner has been accused of intimidation and retribution during his term in office, including denying city services to constituents who criticized him. The Chicago Board of Elections has found probable cause of the alderman having violated the city’s Ethics Ordinance twice, by using city resources for personal matters and by failing to treat members of the public with respect.

11th Ward

Chicago’s 11th Ward hopes for representation in the upcoming election as the first Asian American-majority ward.

According to the new ward maps going into effect this May, the 11th Ward is now Chicago’s first Asian American majority ward in history. The ward includes neighborhoods of Chinatown, Bridgeport, Amour Square and Canaryville. Incumbent Ald. Nicole Lee, Chicago’s first Chinese American city council member, hopes to keep her seat in the runoff election on April 4.

It appears that representation may not be enough to secure the win for incumbent Lee. The votes from the February election were close between Lee and her challenger, Chicago police officer Anthony Ciaravino. When the votes were counted in February, Lee held 31% of the vote, and Ciaravino came in a close second with 29%.

Lee was appointed to her seat by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot in March 2022 after former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson was forced to resign due to a tax fraud conviction. Lee has also received endorsement from former Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Daley family, who have strong roots in the 11th ward neighborhoods.

Ciaravino has said his nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience makes him the candidate to beat, as public safety has been identified as the top campaign priority by both Ciaravino and Lee. Ciaravino has said he does not view Asian representation within the city council as important and has argued that the 11th ward’s remapping has resulted in splitting the ward for many elderly citizens.

The 11th ward had a higher-than-average voter turnout for the February election with 45% of registered voters casting their ballot as opposed to the city’s average of 36%.  –Brielle Conwell

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