With 12 aldermanic incumbents stepping down, including two who have already left office, over one-fifth of candidates elected in the 2019 aldermanic races did not pursue reelection in the Chicago municipal elections.
This shift marks the biggest turnover in the City Council in decades, being dubbed as the Great Resignation, a parallel to the mass resignations seen in the U.S. economy in 2021.
Red Line Project reporters Ricardo Brum, Brielle Conwell and Michael Clark break down the results from a wild election night that saw many races heading to runoffs on April 4.
Slideshow: Photos from the election night parties
Angela Clay greets supporters at her election-night party. (Photo/Ricardo Brum)
By Ricardo Brum
Just before 10 p.m. Tuesday, with all 23 precincts reporting, Angela Clay emerged as the winner of the 46th Ward’s aldermanic race. Clay will face second-place finisher Kim Walz, endorsed by Gov. JB Pritzker, in an April 4 runoff.
Supporters were elated and surprised by the candidate’s tally. Clay finished with 35.1% of the votes, followed by Walz (26.1% ). Marianne Lalonde, who made it to the runoff with incumbent Ald. James Cappleman in 2019, finished third with 17.2% of the vote.
“Electrifying,” said Andre Peden, when asked about his experience on election night, “This young lady here is grassrooted.”
Peden said he has known Clay for 20 years and was involved in this year’s political campaign, a first in his life.
“She just brings out the best in everyone, and just wants to help and inspire them … It’s not about any development money, it’s not about any political money, it’s about people. And that’s what her personality [is],” he said.
Clay’s supporters welcomed her with clapping and chants. They exchanged hugs, spoke about housing policy and their journey alongside the campaign into election night. The candidate received flowers from the people at her watch party at the Fat Cat Bar in Uptown, and posed for pictures with anyone who requested.
In her speech, Clay expressed gratitude for all the candidates in the ward who did not make it into the runoff. She also thanked voters who did not vote for her for participating in the democratic process.
“I will do whatever I can to earn your support in the next five weeks,” Clay said as she attributed her success to voters wanting to make their voices be heard. The candidate then affirmed her campaign will work for the people of the ward, and not to real estate interests. Gentrification has been a hot topic for years in her ward, which includes Uptown.
Voters responded with optimism, seeing in Clay a candidate that spoke to the community, drawing comparisons from the crowd to former Ald. Helen Shiller.
“I just felt for her. […] This is the young lady, like Shiller, that came for the people,” Peden said.
Clay, a community organizer, has contended in the aldermanic race before. In 2019, the candidate finished in fourth place, falling short of the runoff by 367 votes to Lalonde.
Clay was endorsed by former Shiller and 47th ward Ald. Matt Martin. Democratic Socialists of America, Asian American Midwest Progressives, United Working Families and the Chicago Teachers Union have also endorsed the candidate.
Her campaign has $66,000 in available funds, according to financial documents obtained from the Illinois State Board of Elections. Walz has $92,000 at her campaign’s disposal.
Walz, currently a Walgreens’ liaison, has previously served as an advisor for political, advocacy and non-profit clients. The contender was the senior vice president of marketing and communications for a non-profit health insurance co-op that worked to provide insurance for low-income working families. She also assisted in the opening of some of the first testing locations in the country during the pandemic, and promoted vaccination efforts.
Walz is endorsed by Pritzker, US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), former 44th ward Ald. Tom Tunney, Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.
Clay grew up in Uptown, where her family has lived for over 80 years. The candidate attended public schools and was a student leader at Uplift Community High School before earning a degree in public policy from DePaul University.
After completing her degree at age 22, Clay became the youngest-ever president of the Voice of the People in Uptown, a non-profit focused on protecting and providing affordable housing, where she managed budget and made decisions that impacted the lives of hundreds of residents in the community.
The candidate has also advocated for a Sustainable Community School village in the past four years, taking leadership to ensure local schools benefited from the resources and connections that are available to them.
Clay currently serves as an Elected Local School Council member at her former elementary school, Brennemann Elementary.
Clay’s Proposed Policies
Affordability and Housing
Clay addresses increasing housing costs as one of the main issues facing the 46th ward. Her campaign pledged to protect and expand affordable housing, strengthen protections for tenants and funding long-term housing programs to those who face homelessness.
The candidate plans to pass the Just Cause Eviction ordinance, implement a community-driven zoning process, lift the state ban on rent control, and address the ward’s finances to end reliance on property taxes.
Clay envisions a connection between Uplift Community High School, elementary schools and Truman College to create a network of support from pre-K through college. Her tenure would see the end of student-based budgeting that the candidate sees as an aggravator to financial inequities, implementation of cultural curricula that emphasizes ethnic minorities, and the transforming of CPS into a Sustainable Community School District.
Among her proposals, Clay would also pursue full funding for the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History Act, and support and promote representation of parents, students and community members on elected school boards for CPS and City Colleges of Chicago by 2025.
The candidate’s plan includes addressing root causes of crime through the expansion of mental health services, youth programs, and community-based interventions. Clay advocates for prevention of violence before it happens, meaning investments in housing, mental health care, jobs training, and violence intervention.
Her proposals would see the implementation of the Treatment not Trauma ordinance, creating crisis assistance centers, the end of the Shotspotter contract, the erasing of the gang database and implementing police accountability for harm to residents.
Further issues the candidate pledges to address include:
- Investing in the protection of bike lanes, curbing of bump-outs and advocating for a city bike grid, while pushing the City of Chicago to increase bus and train frequency, working in transparency with the ward.
- Reopening and expanding services of public health facilities while rebuilding gutted public health infrastructure.
- Providing infrastructure that promotes access to lead-free drinking water and availability of cooling stations during warmer months.
- Re-establishing of the Department of the Environment, promoting reforms to achieve 100% zero-carbon energy by 2030, and advocating for the Cumulative Impact Ordinance.
By Ricardo Brum
The 48th ward race was called to a runoff between Joe Dunne and Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth.
Dunne, endorsed by current Ald. Harry Osterman, emerged victorious with a tally of 3,838 votes, or 27.4% of the total count. His opponent, Manaa-Hoppenworth, had 3,014 votes, for a 21.5%.
Manaa-Hoppenworth, a small-business owner and freelance photographer, ran on a platform of affordable housing and equitable healthcare, advocating for a lift on rent-control, stabilization of rental fees, and expansion of SROs to include wraparound services including mental health support. If elected, the candidate will become the first queer woman of color, and first Filipina, to represent the ward in city council.
Dunne grew up in the Edgewater neighborhood, where he resided throughout his life. The candidate received an MBA in finance and real estate from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and went on to serve on the Edgewater Community Council in 2010.
The candidate has also served on the board of Friends of Peirce for nine years, acting as Chair and Vice Chair of the Peirce Local School Council from 2014 to 2018.
After working as a project administrator and manager for the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development, Dunne acted as the district development coordinator and deputy director for the Illinois Medical District Commission for five years.
Currently, Dunne is vice president of Real Estate Development for Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, where he oversees the management of affordable housing projects and initiatives.
Dunne’s Proposed Policies
- Work with the Chambers of Commerce to assist new businesses in finding storefronts and navigating bureaucracy.
- Add foot patrols in business districts and transit hubs.
- Advocate for property tax reform that benefits homeowners.
- Establish a network of interconnected bike lanes.
- Pursue a community-based decision-making process for issues concerning zoning and city budget.
Timmy Knudsen prepares to talk to supporters at his election-night party. (Photo/Michael Clark)
By Michael Clark
Incumbent Timmy Knudsen will face Brian Comer in the runoff for the 43rd Ward aldermanic seat
“Let’s keep this momentum going!” Knudsen shouted as he greeted supporters Tuesday night at the Blue Door Farm Stand restaurant in Lincoln Park.
With all precincts reporting, Knudsen leads with 27.06% of the vote, while Comer follows with 24.25%, a margin of less than 400 votes.
When talking to his supporters, Knudsen offered a call to action ahead of the runoff.
“In one month, one month and four days, we have a run-off election,” he said. “There [were] some surprises in this [election], I’m not gonna lie. But you know what? We’re good on
our feet, we’re going to task, and we’re going to keep this momentum going.”
Knudsen has had the seat since he was handpicked by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in September after Ald. Michele Smith stepped down. Lightfoot lost her reelection effort Tuesday night.
Only six months into his term, Knudsen was facing five challengers attempting to unseat him. One of those trying to claim their title was Wendi Taylor Nations,
who was endorsed by two former aldermen in the ward: Smith and Marty Oberman.
Another candidate who ran for the seat was Rebecca Janowitz, who poured over $750,000 of her own money into her campaign. When speaking to Block Club Chicago,
Knudsen said, “It’s an outrageous amount of spending.”
Knudsen, 32, is currently the youngest member on Chicago’s City Council. His opponents were relying on the level of crime in the community and his absence from community meetings to try and unseat the incumbent.
Closing out his speech, Knudsen thanked his supporters. “I’m grateful for all of you being here, and grateful for all the support that I’ve had for the last, God, six months right? Six months we’ve been doing this. It feels surreal and I can’t say thank you enough. I hope everyone’s having fun.”
Of those in attendance to support Knudsen were his parents. When speaking to his mother, she asked a reporter: “Only good news tonight, right?”
Daniel La Spata delivers a speech to supporters as he nears 50%
of the votes for Chicago’s 1st @ard alderman. (Photo/Brielle Conwell)
By Brielle Conwell
Update: With all the votes counted on March 14, La Spata won his second term with more than 50 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff with Sam Royko.
Ald. Daniel La Spata addressed and thanked supporters Tuesday night at Subterranean bar as he held a strong lead in the Chicago’s 1st Ward election.
La Spata took the stage with 49.2% of the 1st ward votes with only 106 additional votes needed to reach the 50% of votes necessary to claim the election. By the end of his election party, it was still unclear whether La Spata would be able to avoid the runoff election on April 4. Counting mail-in voting results in the next few days could push him over the top.
“Whether we find those 106 more votes in the next 24 hours or the next six weeks, we’re going to find those votes together and then I am going to continue serving and being your alderman in the 1st Ward,” La Spata said.
If it moves to a runoff on April 4, La Spata will face Sam Royko, son of former legendary Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko. Royko had 23.8% of the vote.
La Spata held his election night party at the Wicker Park nightclub and mingled among supporters as they enjoyed food, music and drinks while awaiting the voting results. He maintained a strong lead throughout the night and was leading by over 25% of votes when he stepped on stage to deliver his speech.
During his speech, La Spata reflected on his previous term as alderman and his accomplishments in preserving affordable housing and implementing protected bike lanes in the ward.
“We weren’t even talking about a bike grid four years ago. We proved on a neighborhood level in the first ward, both through participatory budgeting and through courage, that we can establish that on a ward level” La Spata said. “We did it because it’s right. We did it because it’s cut crashes for everyone by 56% and we are still here to tell the tale”.
La Spata was a newcomer to politics in 2019 when he was first elected alderman. He easily won the race against then-incumbent Proco “Joe” Moreno. Moreno ran again this time, but finished fourth with only 7.7% of the vote.
During his first term, La Spata introduced 39 ordinances and resolutions to his ward. As an avid biker, he has been a strong advocate for biker and pedestrian safety, as well as affordable family housing and public safety through prevention of crime.
Seeking a second term as 1st Ward alderman, La Spata faced his old foe Moreno, as well as two political newcomers. La Spata previously beat then-incumbent Moreno in the 1st ward election in 2019. At the time Moreno was under criminal investigation, but his criminal history did not disqualify him from running for office again.
Andy Scheider was another candidate to face off for 1st ward alderman on Tuesday night. Schneider is a preservationist who has long been serving as president for the community organization Logan Square Preservation.
Royko is new to politics and started his campaign as a result of his girlfriend’s carjacking, which motivated him to run for office in pursuit of improving public safety.
As the election came to a close, it was clear that La Spata held the lead with 49.2% of the votes with all precincts reporting. The election will continue into the runoff on April 4 where La Spata will face Royoko who held 23.8% of votes in Tuesday’s election.
La Spata’s Proposed Policies:
- Prioritizing the implementation of affordable housing, specifically for families
- Implementing an alternative crisis response team citywide
- Investment in youth deflection, diversion and employment programs for at-risk youth
- Passing laws to ensure the safety of pedestrians and bikers
- Develop decarbonization policies in order to achieve emissions goals and lower cost of energy bills
Other Key Races
Besides the wards covered above, you can find all of the results at the Chicago Board of Elections website.