April 5, 2023

Chicago Aldermanic Runoff Election: Clay (46th) and Lee (11th) Cruise in Their Races

By Ricardo Brum and Brielle Conwell

Clay victory photo

Angela Clay delivers her acceptance speech at Carol’s Pub in Uptown Tuesday night. (Photo/Ricardo Brum)
At 9 p.m. Tuesday night, the next alderman for the city of Chicago’s 46th Ward had been decided, as contender Kim Walz formally conceded the race to community activist
Angela Clay.

Five weeks prior, Clay had won the general election with 35.1% of the votes, against 26.1% by Walz. As neither candidate successfully obtained more than 50% of the votes, the race was forced into a runoff on April 4.

The alderman-elect held a strong lead throughout the night, starting at a 6-percentage point lead over Walz as 17% of precincts began reporting. Once over 50% of precincts were reporting, Clay solidified a 10-percentage point lead that remained unchanged until the end of the count.

Once all 23 precincts reported, Clay had 8,825 votes (55.78%) against 6,999 votes  for Walz (44.2%).

Clay joined the stage at Carol’s Pub in Uptown at 8:30 p.m., greeted by a crowd of supporters chanting her name as music played in the bar.

In her speech, the alderman-elect pledged to promote access to affordable housing, quality schools, and to foster a safe and vibrant community. Clay also thanked the Chicago Teachers Union, Asian American Midwest Progressives, State Sen. Mike Simmons (D-IL), Illinois Nurses Association, One People’s Campaign and the Democratic Socialists of America for their role in her campaign.

Slideshow: Highlights from the runoff events

The alderman-elect congratulated her staff for their work, stating that “five more weeks” of work, alluding to the race being pushed into a runoff, had now turned into “four more
years” of work.

“Tonight we celebrate […] In a few hours though, we got to get back to work. We are not going to leave Carol’s Pub without knowing there is more work to be done,” Clay said.

Although Clay had a comfortable lead following election night on Feb. 28, the runoff remained disputed. Walz campaigned on public safety, criticizing Clay’s platform as radical, presenting herself as a more moderate candidate to address the issues of the ward.

Walz received extensive financial support from corporate PACs, causing the race for the 46th Ward to become the only runoff, other than the mayoral dispute, to have its campaign contribution limits lifted, following over $100,000 worth of contributions to the Walz campaign.

Emily Isaacson, Clay’s campaign manager, attributed the campaign’s success to their presence on the streets. “That [field operation] turned out hundreds of people who would not otherwise have voted”, Isaacson said.

“We made the stakes of the race really clear,” she said. “When the real estate lobby, out-of-state corporations, conservative business interests, republican-funded Super PACs spend over a quarter-million dollars to install their corporate lobbyist candidate to protect their bottom line, that the community is not going to buy into their misinformation.”

Andre Peden, a long-time acquaintance and supporter of Clay, who was interviewed by the Red Line Project on Feb. 28, attributed the success of the alderman-elect to her proposals resonating with voters’ needs. Peden emphasized lack of affordable housing as a persisting issue in the ward.

When asked what came out of election night, Peden said, “Big money can’t win everything.”

Clay’s campaign strategy involved reaching out to different groups in the Uptown community, by means of direct conversations with the candidate, and campaign fliers which were translated into Spanish, Vietnamese and Ethiopian, in order to communicate with the ward’s immigrant communities.

“We are going to work together, we are going to get things done, we are going to pass legislation, and we are going to make sure that the city of Chicago continues to be the vibrant dopest city on the planet.”, Clay said in her speech. — Ricardo Brum

Previous coverage: Feb. 28 general election results and runoff preview stories

48th Ward: Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth Wins Tight Race

The race for the 48th Ward ended with the first Filipina woman of color elected to the City Council. Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth made it to the runoff on Feb. 28 after securing 21.5% of the vote, against 27.4% for Joe Dunne, the affordable
housing developer backed by current Ald. Harry Osterman.

With all 35 precincts reporting Tuesday night, photographer and small business owner Manaa-Hoppenworth had obtained 51.89% of total votes, against 48.11% by Dunne. The contender has yet to concede, stating he will wait on absentee and mail-in ballots to be counted for an official statement.

Manaa-Hoppenworth’s victory further adds momentum to the progressive movement inside the Democratic party, as the alderman-elect is being endorsed by Brandon
Johnson and Nick Ward, the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) candidate for the 48th Ward who failed to make the runoff.

Shortly after midnight, Manaa-Hoppenworth celebrated her win on social media. — Ricardo Brum

More results: Visit the Chicago Board of Elections page

11th Ward: Lee Retains Seat on Council

Nicole Lee delivers her acceptance speech. (Photo/Brielle Conwell)

Nicole Lee made history Tuesday night as the first elected female alderwoman for Chicago’s 11th Ward, as well as the city’s first Chinese-American councilperson. 

Lee will serve Chicago’s 11th ward, including the neighborhoods of Chinatown, Bridgeport, Amour Square and Canaryville. The 11th ward has recently been named Chicago’s first Asian American majority ward in history, according to new ward maps effective in May.

“Thank you all so much for being here. I am so proud to stand before you tonight as the first Chinese-American elected to the city council of Chicago,” Lee said.

Lee won the election with 61.7% of the vote, while challenger Anthony Ciaravino finished with 38.3%. Lee held a 27-percentage point lead within the first 30 minutes of the polls closing.

“When I look around this room, I’m clearly not alone. I haven’t been alone in this journey at all this entire time and I know that ancestors are with us still”, Lee said.

Ciaravino is a first-time candidate who has served the Chicago Police Department for 27 years. Throughout his campaign, his main priority has been public safety and crime reduction within the 11th ward. Ciaravino does not support the redrawing of the ward map and does not view increased Asian American representation as a priority.

 Lee was first appointed as the 11th Ward alderwoman in March 2022 by Mayor Lori Lightfoot when former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson was convicted of tax fraud and forced to resign. Since her appointment, Lee has worked toward election within the city’s 11th ward and for representation of its residents and Chicago’s Asian American community.

Her election night event was held in Chinatown at New Furama Restaurant. It was filled with supporters, friends, family, media and community members. There was an abundance of food and drinks provided and the venue buzzed with excitement as Lee took an early lead in votes. 

When the race was called, Lee took the podium with four generations of her family standing behind her. She reflected on the history of the 11th Ward and the generations of Chinese-Americans that reside in her home neighborhood of Chinatown. She thanked her ancestors and the Asian Americans that came before her for their sacrifices and credited her election to honoring their memory. — Brielle Conwell 


The Red Line Project’s Ricardo Brum captured the celebration at Angela Clay’s election night party.

Angela Clay photo

Angela Clay photo

Angela Clay photo

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