Data: CTA Ridership Struggling to Recover to Pre-Pandemic Numbers

By Jon Salter • June 6th, 2023

Long after the masks have come off and the lockdown orders lifted,  low CTA ridership persists

In late March 2020, as most states issued stay-at-home-orders in response to the emerging COVID-19 crisis, Chicago was one of many cities seemingly desolated overnight. Workers not deemed essential stayed home, whether because they had the option of working remotely, or because their job had become a casualty of the pandemic.

Retailers, whether due to health concerns or anticipation of low demand, temporarily closed many locations, with some closures becoming permanent. Even parks and the lakefront were restricted to further discourage the public from breaking social distancing guidelines.

With nowhere to go, commuters acted accordingly. In a change widely hailed as a silver lining of the pandemic, traffic evaporated from many of America’s roadways. As shown in the chart below, public transit demand in Chicago took a similarly large hit after the pandemic began.

Summarizing weekly totals of CTA ridership based on data provided by the Chicago Data Portal, the chart above illustrates just one dimension of the profound effect that the COVID-19 pandemic had on Chicago’s public transit system. By the end of March 2020, total weekly demand dropped by over 75% from 8.8 million for the week ending March 7, 2020, to 2 million for the week ending March 28, 2020.

For those still commuting by CTA, though, reduced ridership also reduced safety, as violent crime reportedly doubled on the CTA rail system by the end of 2020. To make matters worse, the CTA experienced drastic service cuts as well, further degrading the experience of its commuters.

Three years after the first stay-at-home orders were issued,  only half of Chicago’s office workers had returned to the office, and the CTA continues to frustrate commuters with unreliable and unsafe transit options. The effect of these conditions is abundantly evident in the CTA’s low ridership, which by March of 2023 inspires little hope of recovery to pre-pandemic volume.

Data Analysis: Chicago Mayoral Election Runoff Results by Ward

By Mateusz Kornec • June 3rd, 2023

The Chicago mayoral election dates back to 1837  but has only used the runoff election format in the past 24 years. It was put to the test in April when Paul Vallas, and Brandon Johnson, the top two vote-getters in February’s general election, faced off with the city’s future at stake.

Johnson and Vallas had very similar platforms when it came to their runoff campaigns: crime. It was the No. 1 concern many voters were looking for answers on how the mayoral candidate was going to fight it when casting their ballots.

When looking at how Chicagoans went about their voting, there is a clear distinction in how Vallas — who easily won the general election with a 13 percentage-point victory — compared to neighborhoods that have a high crime rating, particularly the South Side, where the crime rate is 162% higher than the national average, according to AreaVibes Statistics.

Read more: Young voter turnout boosts Johnson in runoff

Further, the neighborhoods that have had more than five homicides to date in 2023, voted heavily for Johnson. This is depicted through the map of the wards where the South Side is a heavy red for Vallas, and blue for Johnson.

On the other hand, Vallas had many more votes in the neighborhoods that had little to no homicide records. Much of the upper northwest side of Chicago that is depicted as “safer” had voted strongly for Vallas, such as in the 41st Ward, where Vallas secured 86% of votes while Johnson had 14%.

Food Prices Skyrocketing Again in Chicago, Rest of the U.S.

By Crystal Bennett • June 3rd, 2023

Prices for everything have skyrocketed since the pandemic, and food costs have risen to an uncomfortably high level. The outlook for a decline in prices does not appear to be anywhere in the near future.

Since the start of the pandemic there have been devastating blows made mentally, physically, and financially to every entity and individual in the world. The U.S. suffered tremendous economic chaos and upheaval while Covid-19 spread like wildfire wreaking havoc on America’s population. Businesses were shut down and thousands were laid off due to the mandatory shelter-in-place mandates.

For more than three years the pandemic waged. Just this year on 5 May 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that Covid-19 was no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The financial hardship of the pandemic has made a more than significant impact on the spending power of consumers and producers. The need to increase the debt ceiling means that there is a drastic shortage in America’s money supply which then creates the inevitable rise in the prices of goods and services.

Families are paying out the yin yang at the pump and have also been having to pay excessive amounts to keep healthy food on their dining room tables. Pre pandemic food prices are a thing of the past. According to data from the most recent consumer price index (CPI) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there has been a 7.7% increase in food prices since April 2022.

According to the data in the chart, the most substantial increases in food have been seen with the price of eggs, fats and oils, processed fruits and vegetables, sugar and sweets and nonalcoholic beverages. Jack Flynn, a writer with Zippia, did some research and found the monthly average cost of groceries in major cities across the states. Per person, the monthly cost of groceries in Chicago amounted to $327.31. In Hawaii the monthly average cost is $556.76.

The state with the lowest average cost is New Hampshire at a $183 average monthly rate for groceries. Remember, these averages are per person and do not account for an average family’s household including children. From April 2022 to present, inflation has increased 4.9%. The Department of Agriculture says that food prices have risen above historical-average rates. The chart shows the upper calculated change in percent of CPI for food prices predicted through 2003. So, although there are no sharp increases, Americans should not expect food prices to significantly decline and bring relief to our pockets any time soon.

Mega Development Along the Chicago River to Impact Chicago’s Future

By Lina Gebhardt, Sigi Perez and Catherine Torres • April 28th, 2023

Lincoln Yards photo

An artist’s rendering of the Lincoln Yards development. (Photo courtesy Sterling Bay)
The year is 1875 and bubbling pots of hot and neon-hued iron are aglow along Chicago’s North Branch Industrial Corridor, previous home to Chicago’s historic North Chicago Rolling Mill Co. and A. Finkl & Sons Steel. Now long gone, steel and iron plants like Rolling Mill Co. and Finkl & Sons helped Chicago to remain the hub of the steel and iron industries, contributing to the city’s rich manufacturing history.

But nestled within the North Branch Industrial Corridor is the balloon-framed former boarding house, Chicago’s beloved bar — The Hideout.

The bar served as a hideaway spot for neighboring industrial workers to escape for a post-work drink during the repeal of Prohibition Era legislation. As the name suggests, The Hideout was an under-the-radar haven among the working class.

In recent years, The Hideout has held on despite the de-industrialization of the North Branch Industrial Corridor. The area, once an industrial hotspot, is now an example of the city’s growth.

Yet nothing scales the growth to the area to come, such as the mega-development Lincoln Yards, said Rachel Weber, Professor of Urban Planning and Development at UIC.

Juxtapose: Before/after photos of the Lincoln Park development

The 53-acre mixed-use development will neighbor several existing neighborhoods such as the affluent Lincoln Park neighborhood, Bucktown and Wicker Park. The project is led by Sterling Bay, the developers behind other well known buildings in Chicago, such as the McDonald’s Global Headquarters, One Two Pru, and Google’s Midwest Headquarters.

When asked about the impact the mega-development will have on small businesses in the area, Weber said, “The nature of that area is likely to change quite radically, indeed, if all of the things that the developer has said they want to do actually get realized,” said Weber.

The $6 billion development will completely reshape Chicago’s near-North Side, as renderings show.

“Lincoln Yards aims to build a better Chicago for everyone,” said Amanda Vaneck, Communications Manager for Sterling Bay. “In addition to creating public amenities such as 21 acres of parks and open space, an extension of The 606, over a mile of publicly accessible riverwalk, and three new river crossings to create a greater connection on both sides of the Chicago River, the development will create economic output and opportunity throughout the city.”

Since Lincoln Yards proposes a significant revitalization of the former North Branch Industrial Corridor, this raises concerns about the effect these developments will have across the city, and the impact these changes will have on small businesses such The Hideout, said Hideout patron Neil Gregus.

“As soon as something gets super developed, people get pushed out, which is unfortunate,” he said.

Big Development With a Bigger Impact?

Weber highlighted the correlation between newer developments and higher prices in the short term, but feels that a constant demand and increase in supply can potentially balance out the initial surge in value.

A Future Filled With Uncertainty

Sterling Bay is hopeful the development will appeal to all of Chicago, but residents are unsure.

In a statement by Vaneck for Sterling Bay, the developers have reiterated their commitment to unifying Chicago’s existing communities.

“While Lincoln Yards is located on the city’s North Side, the project’s benefits will extend far beyond the boundaries of the development. We aim to create a space that all Chicagoans can enjoy, uplifting the city.”

Weber said it’s hard to gauge the impact the development will bring in terms of impacting the existing disparities within Chicago’s borders.

Despite these statements, Gregus, among other residents, have voiced various concerns regarding the impacts the project will have, and are wary of the increased investments into Chicago’s North Side.

“Chicago is one of most segregated cities in the United States,” said Gregus, a Ukrainian Village resident. “Is there a reason there isn’t a Lincoln Yards happening on the South Side?”

“More money isn’t going to places that could use more development, the money is going where the money is — right in between these two, plush neighborhoods. So it’s frustrating to see that. You’d love to see more investments in undeveloped communities, where I think they could really benefit from it, versus ‘there’s River North, and here’s this new thing, and here’s this’ … And now there’s this, so it’s really frustrating.”

Chicago resident Melvin Craig said he felt the same way: “I think that if the city is going to ‘green light’ things like this, and if they’re going to encourage or incentivize developers to do work on the North Side, they [the city] should also be doing that in other parts of the city.”

Minority-Business-Enterprise and Women-Business-Enterprise say they are committed to extending job opportunities to these populations of businesses.

While it’s uncertain what impact Lincoln Yards will have on traffic flow, the development is set to improve and develop infrastructure, constructing bridges and paths to improve the accessibility of the area. The addition of public spaces, parks, and residential units will heighten Chicago’s appeal, expanding the city to new heights, developers say.

The project also has the potential to improve Chicago’s economy, with new developments in life-sciences such as the Class A Lab. Lincoln Yards could also help to strengthen small businesses and minority voices, developers say.

Lincoln yards photo

Class A Lab, Lincoln Yards. (Photo/Lina Gebhardt)
With roughly 10 years before the project is complete, according to Vaneck, the impact of the Lincoln Yards development is uncertain — but the desire to unify Chicago’s existing communities is clear. Residents like Gregus remain hopeful the city will continue to expand, serve, and invest back into all of the neighborhoods which call Chicago home.

“I hope that they keep building things, but I hope they expand the city so it feels like one Chicago,” he said. “Chicago is a great city. It’s not black-and-white, but they treat it that way. And that’s a real shame. So hopefully it keeps growing and expanding in a better direction.”

Read more: Little Village Discount Mall vendors hurt by Novak’s Decision

How Has Chicago’s Drinking Culture Been Changing?

By Mary Clare Cheski and Aylin Arredondo • April 28th, 2023

Chicago Bar Scene photo

Saturday night at The Long Room. (Photo/Mary Clare Cheski)

Jason Burrell, co-owner of The Long Room bar, describes Chicago as a historically “boozy town,” but adds that he sees the city’s drinking trends are changing. 

After 23 years of operating The Long Room, a relaxed Lakeview community pub, Burrell has witnessed a recent shift within the age-old drinking culture in the Windy City.

“I think younger people are drinking in different ways than they were up to two years ago,” Burrell said. “So I’ve been in this business a long time. So even in the service culture, service industry, people are not going out until four in the morning, like we would, we’d literally leave work and go out until four o’clock in the morning, four or five times a week. 

“People are doing a lot less of that. And I think part of it is we’re finding that, you know, they may love the drinking culture, but they also want to have balance and they don’t want to sleep until two o’clock in the afternoon.”

Not only are Chicagoans seeking better balance in their lives, but “financially, it’s different too,” Burrell said. “When people are making the same money now than they were making in the ‘90s, and let’s say you’re making $300 in one night, well then, your rent was $500, $400 in 1995-2000 and now it’s $1,500. Well, then you’re not gonna go out and spend all your money after your shift.”

The Chicago Department of Public Health’s 2019 Alcohol Use and Outcomes in Chicago Report lists the highest instances of drinking in the city occur among those who make an income of over 400% more than the federal poverty level.  This population, according to the report, were almost twice as likely to report recent alcohol use than those who make an income below the federal poverty level. 

The study also found that the highest instances of binge drinking – defined by the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as “a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration levels to 0.08,” – in the city occur among residents of North Center (46.9%), Riverdale (45.2%), West Town (43.7%) and Lakeview (42.8%). And the lowest instances of binge drinking occurred among residents of Hyde Park (9.0%), Jefferson Park (10.3%), South Deering (10.5%) and Englewood (10.9%).

Not only are the median household incomes in the neighborhoods that reported higher binge drinking rates much higher than neighborhoods with lower rates of binge drinking, but there is also a much higher concentration of active Liquor and Public Places of Amusement Licenses in these areas, the study found. 

“A higher percentage of adults in Chicago report any alcohol use compared to adults nationally,” according to the public health department. 

Why Are Chicagoans Drinking So Much?

Mike Miller, owner of Delilah’s, a punk bar that boasts a whiskey list of over 300 varieties along with a 30-year tenure on the Chicago bar scene, said, “There’s way more to drinking culture for a lot of people than just the drinking in and of itself. So a lot of people … are interested in the cultural significance internationally, historical context.

“It comes down to how do those people interact in their society. And how much of it is a cultural aspect, even, you know, even if you’re getting together with your friends, and everybody’s into some college sports team, some basketball team, and they’re all getting together in a place and all watching the game together, they’re sharing something. They’re sharing a moment, or sharing experience better than if they’re staying at home and their drinking experience is by themselves at home watching that game.”

Miller added: “Is it about the having of the drink? Or is it about being in a social environment that allows you to have conversation with people who have all kinds of different ideas? I think that’s really relevant.”

Drinking culture and Chicago’s social culture go hand-in-hand. Often, it can be remarkably difficult to find social activities that don’t involve or include access to alcohol. However, “drinking culture,” Miller said, “isn’t necessarily about consumption culture.”

Miller said that people often go out simply to engage in the social environment. “Maybe you get to meet the DJ or the people who are hanging out, and immediately you’re in a community of people who have like interests.” 

Chicago Bar scene photo

Saturday night at the upstairs bar at Delilah’s. (Photo/Mary Clare Cheski)
There has been a shift in how people participate in drinking culture, especially after the pandemic, experts say. Drinking in a social setting isn’t necessarily about the drinking, but about the environment, people are immersing themselves. 

Once the pandemic began, the limitations placed on social environments meant that people had to isolate and learn to enjoy their own company. Thus, many people turned to drinking in isolation, which has led to increasing health issues. 

Dr. Subhash Pandey, a neuroscientist conducting research on alcohol addiction at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School Department of Psychiatry, said COVID-19 drove up binge drinking as well as impacting other habits.

“The report in the field,” Pandey said, “what it’s suggesting is that the binge drinking or drinking in general has gone up, because of the COVID-19 and one of the phenomena wakes up because first thing is social, kind of, social isolation.

“Some people may be suffering with depression, and maybe these psychiatric disorders, they were probed further by the social isolation. And the people drink alcohol to self-medicate.”

People have dealt with high amounts of stress during the pandemic whilst living in a moment of uncertainty, sickness and social isolation. For many people, drinking helped to ease the stress, which has led to higher levels of binge drinking. 

“Because either people feel anxious,” Pandey said, “suffering with anxiety disorder, people are stressed or depressed, there [are] some times they drink to self medicate. And when they drink, they feel relaxed. And because alcohol itself is an anti-anxiety compound, like it has in genetic effects, as people drink they feel relaxed and anxiety goes away. So kind of a self-medication phenomenon.”

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found in a study on the pandemic’s effects on drinking that “in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, sales of alcohol increased by 2.9%, the largest annual increase in over 50 years.”

Google Trends image

Interactive chart
Additionally, the study showed that “deaths involving alcohol jumped 25.5% between 2019 to 2020, totaling 99,107 deaths.”

Chicagoans are not immune to the observed increases in drinking nor the consequences. In 2020, 254 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in Illinois, approximately 21% of the 1,195 total crash fatalities. 

Following the release of the COVID vaccine and relaxation of quarantine limitations, Chicagoans, along with the rest of the world, have resumed their social activities in full swing. However, as stated by Burrell, many people are looking for a healthier balance in their lives and practicing better drinking habits. 

Miller said that the majority of his customers drink responsibly, or simply come to enjoy the atmosphere at Delilah’s and don’t drink at all. 

“Let’s say you got two total rock-and-roll guys to drive motorcycles,” Miller said, “And they’re here to check out the DJ, but they’re on their bikes. So they might have a drink, or maybe they are drinking nonalcoholic drinks.

“And they might be sitting next to a couple of people who are in from out of town, and they’re sampling the whiskey menu. They’re both choosing to come here for different reasons, but within the context of what we create. And they’re drinking, but these people are sampling fancy whiskies and these people are here to rock out to the DJ, then they’re gonna get back on their motorcycles. So they’re not going to be partying really hard.”


How to Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse, visit the Rosecrance website to locate the nearest alcohol addiction treatment center in Chicago, or call the American Addiction Center Hotline at (866) 800-0170. 

Vendors at Little Village’s Discount Mall Hurt by Novak Decision

By Melissa Munoz, Kee Stein and Jeremy Clough • April 28th, 2023

Discount mall photoA cotton candy vendor stands outside the partially closed Little Village Discount Mall. (Photo/Melissa Munoz)

Little Village residents felt nostalgic over the years when they walked through the local Discount Mall on 26th Street. This mall has been open since 1991 and sells anything from jewelry and gowns to beach towels, toys and ice cream. 

But when Novak Construction bought the mall in 2020, its ambiance changed and vendors and customers were left in the dark about future plans as rumors about a shutdown circulated.                             

Evelyn Valasquez, an 18-year-old from the Little Village area, is saddened to hear about the sudden changes to the neighborhood mall, which is now partially fenced off. Valasquez has worked in the Discount Mall since she was 14 and she worries that the community built around the mall could soon come to an end.

“First it was shocking because it’s been open for like over 30 years,” Valasquez said. “I’ve been coming here since I was little. This is like a second home. I’ve been here all day – like you work all day so like morning to night.” 

Valasquez said that closures in the mall has caused more than just locals to be upset. 

“You know, people from Wisconsin and Michigan come here to the mall,” she said.

StoryMap: American Malls that have Fallen into Ruin

What’s happening in Little Village is part of a disturbing national trend. A CNBC article cited research that estimates that 25% of America’s malls will shut down in the next three to five years, with an expected 3.6% increase in industrial development. 

After Novak Construction’s acquisition, half of the mall shut down, forcing out over 40 vendors. 

When it comes to the current state of the mall, many residents say they are unsure whether the mall is closed. 

Anyone who accesses the website of the Discount Mall will find an update from April 1, 2023: “We are temporarily closed. Stay tuned for future updates. – Hemos cerrardo temporalmente. Manténganse atentos a esta pagina para actualizaciones futuras.” 

The same message to the public appears on Google, although there is no mention of whether the building is closed, and updated hours for the mall are available. 

The uncertainty has caused a lot of confusion for customers who have been going to the mall for years. It is only when people drive by the location that they see the mall is actually open and ready for business despite the fences that are up and the construction that seems to be taking place. 

Ellen Engel is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at UIC’s Business Department of Accounting with research interests in Corporate Governance. She had heard of the news surrounding Novak’s handling of Discount Mall and Novak could have planned it better and stayed in contact with the vendors who were kept in the dark.

“I suspect it’s a fine business decision on the part of the developers if they’re looking forward to projecting what the best, highest value use of that property is, and they’ve made the decision that it’s not to continue with the current merchants,” Engel said. “But, if any business knows, if you’re operating in a community, there’s more to your business than just the bottom line. 

“A big part of any common development strategy, particularly real estate, is to get buy-in from your local community, as do many different communities throughout Chicago.”

Luis Carranza and Morelia Rodriguez, a couple from Little Village and longtime Discount Outlet customers, have taken their younger siblings and nieces to the mall for toys and sweet treats. 

“It sucks because people are getting displaced,” said Carranza while shaking his head. “Discount Mall has been there for years and we heard it was sold to someone else.” 

Rodriguez said, “Yeah, I remember shopping there when I was younger for shoes and jewelry. It’s sad. And we didn’t even know that people were still shopping there now. Everyone keeps saying it’s closed.” 

Read more: Mega-development on North Side to have big impact on neighborhood

The uncertainty has caused many of the vendors in the mall to become frustrated with the contradicting information. Hat and souvenir vendor Francisco Villegas spoke agitatedly about his numerous attempts to make sure the public knows that mall vendors like his family are still there. 

“I’ve been trying to reach out to Google to try to get that fixed,” Villegas said. “I’ve submitted pictures showing proof that it’s open and that still hasn’t been resolved. There’s a website still but that website is run by the other side that was closed down. Since they’ve been closed down, they’ve been marking it as closed but as you guys can tell it’s not closed.”

Villegas and his family are natives of Little Village. Their business is owned by his parents who have been vendors at Discount Mall for 14 years and are heartbroken by the news of possible full closure. 

“We’ve always been in this community,” Villegas said. “A lot of us were torn apart because it’s been our economic resource for our whole lives. We might have a job somewhere else, but my parents? They depend on this place.”

Business owners and families like Villegas’s are experiencing the fear of financial insecurity after witnessing the sudden removal of neighboring businesses.

 “We’ve definitely felt the effect as far as sales because there [are] not as many people as we usually see,” he said. “So it’s definitely having an impact economically.” 

Vendors said Novak has provided no communication on future plans when it comes to the mall and its occupants. Novak did not respond to multiple interview requests for this story.

“Obviously, we’re trying to reach out to them,” Villegas said. “There was a committee that was formed from members of that side and this side. They went out to their actual headquarters [Novak] up on the North Side to try to work something out, but it’s never been successful.” 

When asked about the state of communication between the company and vendors, Villegas added: “As far as what’s going on right now, there’s never been any communication saying, ‘We’re gonna start doing this’. If you go look outside, there’s construction and crews out there, different vehicles out there. None of that was ever communicated to us.”

Your Thoughts

Do you think a problem such as this could’ve been avoided? 

Where do you see this situation developing going forward?

Is there any hope for a positive outcome once this is all over?

Data: Increased Young Voter Turnout Played Key Role in Johnson’s Win

By Laaiba Mahmood and Karlie Sanchez • April 26th, 2023

Following a 35.85% turnout in the Feb. 28 Chicago municipal general election, 38.67% of registered voters cast ballots in person or through mail in the city’s April 4 municipal runoff election that resulted in Brandon Johnson elected as mayor.

This year’s runoff turnout is 5 percentage points higher than the turnout in the 2019 runoff when Lori Lightfoot beat Toni Preckwinkle.

According to an analysis of data from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, the city’s 19th Ward saw the highest turnout, with 62.04% of registered voters casting ballots. The lowest turnout was seen in the 16th Ward, with 20.96% of registered voters casting ballots. 

The city saw a 3 percentage-point increase in turnout from the municipal election to the runoff, accounting for approximately 50,000 more ballots cast. The 2019 runoff saw 33,815 fewer ballots cast than the corresponding municipal election, while the 2015 runoff saw 108,824 more ballots cast than the corresponding municipal election. 

Max Bever, spokesperson for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, said there was a notable increase in the number of younger voters that turned out for the runoff. The numbers he cited were unofficial counts for the runoff.

“The biggest increase between the two elections was seen among 25-to-34,” Bever said. “For February, it was 70,306. On April 4th, it was 87,506. So above a 17,000 vote jump there.” 

Johnson had 51% of the vote with 286,647 ballots, with Vallas at 49% with 270,775 votes.

 Dick Simpson, UIC professor emeritus and a former Chicago alderman, pointed out that the increase in votes cast by the 25-to-34 age group corresponded to the margin of victory for Johnson.

“I think what this election illustrates better than anything else is that a single vote matters,” Bever said. “It really does. And a single vote matters even more in a low voter turnout election.”

In previous elections, the older population has had the highest turnout, data show. However, the youngest voter population, 18-to-24, saw a 30% increase in April from the previous February general election. With 70,306 votes in the Feb. 28 election, and 87,506 votes in the April election.

Besides an endorsement from the Chicago Teachers Union, Johnson had help from many civic organizations. GoodKids MadCity and Chicago Votes made many efforts to keep the youth involved in the voting process, as a result, young voters turned out for Johnson. He also had campaign workers knock on more than 50,000 doors. He also visited many neighborhoods and organized rallies with his team. 

Bernie Sanders held a rally for Johnson to encourage voters in support of him, on March 30 at Credit Union 1 Arena at UIC, just five days before the runoff election. 

“The fundamental issue is what side are you on? Are you on the side of working people or are you on the side of the speculators and the billionaires? And I know which side Brandon is on,” Sanders said at the rally.

Johnson also played to the crowd, who were mainly young people and union workers: “This moment has been brought to us by a very profound struggle. Many of our ancestors knew that one day, tomorrow will come. And I just can’t help but recognize and feel that tomorrow has arrived, Chicago.”

Read more: Mayor’s race could come down to young voter turnout | Election coverage | Low voter turnout expected

Despite the rallies and the boots-on-the-ground campaigning by Johnson, Simpson said he was surprised by the low turnout in the runoff election. 

“Turnout usually depends on a couple of things: how clear the distinction between the candidates is and how much [voters] feel their vote actually matters,” Simpson said. “Given that both were true, it’s surprising that there wasn’t more than a 3 percentage point increase.”

In addition to a shift in vote trends by age group, voters cast their ballots in a variety of ways, including early voting and mail-in voting along with voting on election day. 

“This was the first time in municipal election history that election day voting dipped under 50% of votes being cast,” Bever said. “So for the Feb. 28 election, just over 47% of people voted on election day. For the April 4 election, just over 43% of people voted on election day.”

Johnson will take office as Chicago’s 57th mayor on May 15.

Gun-Related Deaths on the Rise Nationally, Suicide Part of Increase

By Hans Sabado • April 21st, 2023

In 2021, the United States saw an increase of 8% from gun-related deaths from 2020 . There were a total of 48,830 gun-related deaths in the United States in 2021.

Chicago Walmart Closings Hit West, South Sides the Hardest

By Natalie McGuiggan • April 20th, 2023

Walmart has announced that it will be closing four of its stores in Chicago, including three on the South and West Sides.

The stores that have been closed to the public since April 16, are located in Kenwood, Lakeview, Little Village, and one Supercenter in Chatham. However, Walmart made sure that the pharmacies at these locations remain open to serve patients for 30 days after the closing.

Walmart’s decision to close the stores was difficult, but necessary due to their consistent lack of profitability, the company said in a statement. Walmart claimed in its statement that the decision to close the stores was based on the fact that they “have not been profitable since we opened the first one nearly 17 years ago — these stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, and their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years.”

For those wondering how this will affect the workers who relied on these locations for a living, Walmart stated that all associates will be able to transfer to another Walmart location, and that hiring managers from surrounding facilities will be there to help associates begin finding their next opportunity. Associates will be paid until August 11, 2023, unless transferred to another location during that time. If they do not transfer, eligible associates will still receive severance benefits. Walmart remains committed to its community investments in Chicago and will work with local leaders to find reuse options for the buildings.

The closure of these four locations will have a massive toll on their communities, but the continuous theft and security issues the company has been facing for years left them with no choice.

Analysis: Cybersecurity Industry Avoids Silicon Valley Fallout

By Ricardo Brum • April 20th, 2023

Editor’s note: Reporter Ricardo Brum tracked the health of the cybersecurity industry by analyzing SEC reports and stock price data that he scraped from Google Finance.

In general, the cybersecurity industry has been able to avoid fallout from the Silicon Valley Bank’s crisis, gaining in stock value over the last month, or at least, when facing losses, not undergoing any significant ones. The companies have been meeting and surpassing investors’ expectations, with increased revenue figures and positive quarterly earnings reports observed in the industry, but caution is advised nonetheless.

While the industry has provided strong figures which satisfied shareholders, investors are still approaching the year cautiously, as fears of a recession loom. Although the reason for this apprehension does not stem from the industry, but rather the market as a whole, it still will be a determinant for the stock price in the coming months, and whether or not the cybersecurity industry will be able to keep itself recession-proof is yet to be determined.

The company’s stock has performed well over the past month, having gained 9% in value, an increase from $61 per stock in mid-March to $67 per stock in mid-April. The stock value is roughly the same as it was one year ago, when it was traded at $68, before falling through the year as the company struggled to meet market expectations. The recent increase in stock price has been attributed to strong product and service revenue, with a 32% increase in revenue overall in 2022. The company’s most recent Form 13F filing with the SEC shows that the investment advisory firm AE Wealth Management LLC increased its position in the company by 2.6%, and the Royal Bank of Canada upped its price target on Fortinet from $57 to $68, strengthening the bullish trend.

Palo Alto Networks
The multinational’s stock value has been up 6% since mid-March, a shift from $189 to $201 in stock price. The positive momentum comes at a time when the company’s average brokerage recommendation (ABR) is at 1.26 on a scale from 1 (Strong Buy) to 5 (Strong Sell), which is calculated based on the recommendations of 31 different brokerage firms. Portland Global Advisors LLC has also substantially increased its holdings in the company, by 89.3% total, leading to a $3.29 million in holdings according to a filing with the SEC. Equity research analysts see mostly positive prospects for the company, with Credit Suisse Group, Scotiabank and Mizuho all boosting their price target for the stock.

Check Point
Check Point’s stock price has not experienced any significant variations, remaining at a stable $132 price per stock, compared to last month’s $131 price. The company’s stale month can be attributed to a downgrade by research analysts, which caused concern in the market, though accompanied by sound revenue figures, preventing the concerns from affecting the stock price. Although current earnings reports remain positive, the downgrade comes from changing dynamics in the industry, which has led analysts to worry that external competition might become a challenge to the company in the long term.

The company has gained value since March, a 7% increase in its stock price, amounting to a change from $16.64 to $17.96 per stock. Analysts consider the stock to be currently undervalued and to have high growth potential, as trading is at good value and earnings are forecast to grow. One risk also pointed out by analysts is that the company’s debt is not well covered by operating cash flow.

Crowdstrike has gained 3.49% in stock value in the last month, which led to an increase in price from ca. $132 to ca. $137. Expected growth in subscription-based annual recurring revenue, alongside a new partnership with Dell, have led to good momentum, with Wall Street investors expecting a bullish run of the stock after it escaped mostly unscathed from the Silicon Valley Bank fallout. Recent competition threats from Microsoft have put the company under alert, and could prove to be potential challenges in the near future.

The company’s stock price has fallen 1.30% since mid-March, fluctuating from $50.94 to $52 in early April, and falling back down to $50.28 as of April 17. The stock has generally underperformed when compared to its competitors, and insiders have sold company stock over the last 3 months, ditching over a million dollars worth of shares. Cisco is still forecasted to grow this year and is considered undervalued by analysts.

Johnson Overcomes the Odds to Upset Vallas and Win Chicago Mayoral Election

By Karlie Sanchez and Laaiba Mahmood • April 5th, 2023

Brandon Johnson photo

Brandon Johnson celebrates his victory Tuesday night with his family. (Photo/Lulu Anjanette)
Election results

Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner and former school teacher, won the Chicago mayoral election in a big upset of former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas on Tuesday night

Johnson, 47, will become Chicago’s 57th mayor and the third African American to serve in the position, following Harold Washington and Lori Lightfoot.

Johnson won 51.4% of the vote while Vallas won 48.6%. Shortly after 10 p.m., Vallas conceded and called Johnson to congratulate him. It was a stunning upset, as Vallas held a 13-percentage point lead over Johnson in the general election just five weeks ago. 

Johnson holds a nearly 15,000 vote lead over Vallas. The Chicago Board of Elections expects half of 91,000 mail-in ballots issued to be returned by Tuesday’s deadline. It will take the Board of Elections at least two days or at most up to two weeks to count them.

But shortly after The Associated Press called the race, Johnson addressed the crowd at his election night event at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Chicago, highlighting his commitment to serve as the mayor for all Chicagoans, even those who did not vote for him.

“We are building a better, stronger, safer, Chicago,” Johnson said. “We’re doing it together. It’s a multicultural, multigenerational movement that has literally captured the imagination of not just the city of Chicago, but the rest of the world.”

Before leaving the stage, Johnson drew on the words of Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated on April 4, 55 years ago.

“Today, the dream is alive; so today, we celebrate the revival and the resurrection of the City of Chicago,” Johnson said. “It is time for Chicago to come alive. Come alive, Chicago!” 

Supporters, politicians, and union workers were all in attendance. The atmosphere of the venue was classy, with old school R&B classics playing in the background and the crowd danced throughout the night.

While Vallas held an early lead, attendees held onto hope for Johnson’s victory.

“I’m just excited to see change, where everybody’s treated equal, people can speak, safer streets, communities coming together,” said Jose Jimenez, a Chicago Teachers Union worker. “When you see all different kinds of color in all different ages, you know you’re at the right place.”

Supporters had mounting energy as Johnson took a razor-thin lead over Vallas midway through the evening. They were cheering and crowding around the TV to celebrate as vote counts were being updated, solidifying Johnson’s lead. 

Aldermanic races: Clay, Lee win big in their wards| Social media coverage | Election archive

Once Vallas conceded, attendees gathered by the stage anticipating Johnson to give his victory speech. 

“So, Chicago, I’ll say this: Today, we take big steps toward figuring it out here,” Johnson said.  “So I believe since we are taking steps to figure it out here, let’s take this bold progressive movement across the United States of America. Chicago, we can show the country, we can show the world what’s possible when we stand on our values as one people.” 

Johnson departed the stage as confetti rained down in the hall. He celebrated with his family onstage.

“It means everything that [Johnson] was elected mayor,” said Claudia Gomez, a nurse and Johnson supporter. “He started from the ground up, so grassroots and I’ve been following him from the beginning. I’m so happy.”

CTU President Stacy Davis Gates gave a speech to introduce Johnson to the stage. The teachers union endorsed Johnson and campaigned heavily for him.

“This movement of the many, this movement of community and love and justice, is going to transform not just the city of Chicago but the United States of America,” Gates said. “And we have our mayor. His name is Brandon Johnson.” 

Slideshow: Highlights from the runoff events


Red Line Project photojournalist Lulu Anjanette captured key moments from Johnson’s speech and celebration.

Brandon Johnson photo

Brandon Johnson party photo

Brandon Johnson party photo

Brandon Johnson party photo

Brandon Johnson party photo

Vallas Concedes Chicago Mayoral Race to Johnson, Calls for Unity in City, Party

By Manny Meraz and Brian Chan • April 5th, 2023

Paul Vallas kiss photo

Paul Vallas kisses his wife, Sharon, Tuesday night as he conceded the Chicago mayor’s race to Brandon Johnson. (Photo/Manny Meraz)

After holding a 13-percentage point lead in the general election, Paul Vallas lost the 2023 Chicago mayoral runoff to Brandon Johnson Tuesday night in one of the closest races the City of Chicago has seen in decades.

Johnson earned 51.4% of the vote 48.6% for Vallas. Johnson led by nearly 16,000 votes when Vallas stepped to the podium shortly after 10 p.m. to concede the race. It was an unexpected result for many, as Vallas had a dominant lead over the progressive Johnson in the Feb. 28 general election.

Election results

The Chicago Board of Elections reported that more than 91,000 mail-in ballots were issued, but Vallas decided to concede anyway. The Chicago Board of Elections expected half of those mail-in ballots to return by the the April 3 postmark and would be counted over the next several days. The Associated Press called the race for Johnson shortly before Vallas conceded.

“It is clear based on the results tonight that the city is deeply divided,” Vallas said. “I called Brandon Johnson and told him that I absolutely expect him to be the next mayor of Chicago. It’s critically important that we use this opportunity to come together.”

Willie Wilson, a Chicago businessman and a former candidate for mayor of Chicago, endorsed Vallas after Wilson finished fourth in the general election. Wilson attended Tuesday night’s party and said, “I understand that there are 91,000 mail-in votes,” adding how those 91,000 votes can favor Vallas.

“I wish the results were different,” Wilson said.

Slideshow: Highlights from the runoff events

Wilson added that he advocated for Vallas because of “taxes, and [Vallas not wanting to] defund the Chicago Police Department.”

Vallas supporter Sheila Owens described the loss to Johnson as “unbelievable” after Vallas held a lead early Tuesday night.

With Johnson’s victory, it is now yet to be seen whether Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara’s predictions of a mass exodus of 800-1000 officers and warnings of “blood in the streets” will come to fruition. Vallas, who comes from a CPD family, was strongly supported by the police union while the powerful Chicago teacher’s union supported Johnson.

During his speech, Vallas called on the city to band together in support of Johnson.

“This campaign that I ran to bring the city together would not be a campaign that fulfilled my ambitions if this election is going to divide us more,” he said. “So it’s critically important that we use this opportunity to come together. And I’ve offered him my full support.”

Aldermanic races: Clay, Lee win big in their wards| Social media coverage | Election archive


The Red Line Project’s Brian Chan captured Vallas as he greeted supporters Tuesday night at the Hyatt Regency

Vallas greeting photo

Vallas greeting photo

Vallas greeting photo

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

By Ricardo Brum and Brielle Conwell • April 5th, 2023

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

Social Media Coverage: Posts from the 2023 Chicago Runoff Elections for Mayor and Alderman

By Staff • April 4th, 2023

While Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson square off in the Chicago mayoral runoff election, several aldermanic races will also be decided during Tuesday’s election. Here are highlights from social media coverage from Red Line Project reporters, other media outlets, the Chicago Board of Elections and the campaigns.

Slideshow: Highlights from the runoff events

Previous coverage: Feb. 28 general elections and runoff preview stories

Mayor’s Race

After trailing early, Brandon Johnson has overtaken Paul Vallas in the race for Chicago mayor. Vallas had a 13 percentage point lead in the Feb. 28 municipal election.

Aldermanic Races: 46th and 11th Wards

Nicole Lee claims victory in the 11th Ward, Chicago’s first Asian American ward. Angela Clay claims victory in the 46th Ward over Kim Walz.

Election Day Notes and Voter Turnout

The severe thunderstorms that swept through Chicago early in the afternoon caused a slight dip in voter turnout. Numbers through late afternoon show turnout on par with Feb. 28 elections. Stay tuned …

For Fun

Five Thirty Eight decided to parachute into Chicago with a look at voting by neighborhoods as part of an election preview package. Chicagoans and the media didn’t react well. And when it comes to mayors, one voter thinks size matters …

Chicago Election: Vallas-Johnson Mayoral Runoff Could Come Down to Young Turnout

By Laaiba Mahmood, Karlie Sanchez, Manny Meraz and Brian Chan • March 31st, 2023

Bernie Sanders and Brandon Johnson photo

Mayoral hopeful Brandon Johnson and Bernie Sanders meet on the stage Thursday night. (Photo/Karlie Sanchez)

Brandon Johnson’s campaign for Chicago mayor got a boost Thursday night from fellow progressive Democrat Bernie Sanders during a rally on the UIC campus.

Supporters of Johnson and Sanders joined together at the UIC Credit Union 1 voter turnout rally just days before Johnson takes on Paul Vallas in the Chicago mayoral runoff election. The large crowd chanted “Bernie Bernie Bernie Bernie” as he made his way to the podium to talk about Johnson.

“They have the money, we have the people and when the people stand united people will win,” Sanders said. “We have seen the billionaires and the rich get richer, while the working class struggles to stay alive, but this campaign here Chicago is bringing the working class together.” 

Johnson joined Sanders on the stage, holding his hand and raising them up toward the cheering crowd.

Election 2023: Previews of runoff races and past coverage

“I just can’t help but feel that tomorrow has finally arrived. And those who saw this country for what it could become, and not what it was, understood that one day a dream would come,” he said.

Besides Sanders, Johnson has been endorsed by Elizabeth Warren, James Clybourn, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and many others. 

Voter turnout could be critical for Johnson. On Feb. 28, only 3% of voters were 18-24. The goal of Thursday’s rally was to increase voter turnout among young voters and reach Johnson’s progressive base of supporters. 

Johnson earned 20.3% of the vote in the municipal election, trailing Vallas by 13 percentage points. But recent polls show them in a dead heat with 10 percent of the vote undecided.

Johnson is running on a platform dedicated to affordable housing efforts, supporting public school funding, mental health care access and green jobs. A former Chicago Public Schools teacher, Johnson went on to become an organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union. In 2018, he was elected commissioner of the 1st District of Cook County.

Google search trends on Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson over the last seven days in Chicago.

Preview: Paul Vallas

Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson eliminated incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the Feb. 28 municipal election, leaving the two of them to face off in Tuesday’s runoff.

Vallas won a commanding 32.9% percent of the vote on the 28th, followed by Johnson with 21.6%. According to Hill and Emerson College Polling, Johnson has closed the gap, with Vallas holding a five-point lead over Johnson in a 46% to 41% contest with 13% remaining undecided of those polled. That poll and others show the race is in a dead heat.

In the race, the momentum gained from endorsements from eliminated mayoral candidates could mean the difference in the race. With his history in education, Vallas has been endorsed by former U.S Education Secretary Arne Duncan, along with U.S Senator Dick Durbin and Former Illinois governor Pat Quinn. Both Duncan and Vallas served as CPS superintendents.

Vallas’ strong “tough on crime” stance has earned him a spot in the runoff, but whether or not it will be enough to carry him through remains to be seen. Public safety has been his first priority throughout the campaign, with Vallas attacking his competitors’ public-safety plans during several debates.

“I want to restore the police ranks and return to constitutional-based, consent-decree-enforced community policing. My opponent wants to defund the police,” Vallas said during a recent debate on CBS 2 Chicago.

Johnson has said in several interviews and debates that his plans to manage funds within the police department do not translate to defunding the police but rather to shifting funding into more effective spending. That would still result in lowering the amount of money spent on the Chicago Police Department, a point Vallas has made repeatedly in attack ads on Johnson.


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

By Ricardo Brum and Brielle Conwell • March 31st, 2023

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

Voter’s Guide: How and Where to Vote in Chicago’s Runoff Elections

By Karlie Sanchez • March 30th, 2023

The 2023 runoff elections are coming up April 4, and voters will cast ballots for mayor, aldermen, police district councils and other positions. This guide offers specifics of how and where to vote.

Hours for Polling Locations

6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Find your polling place here.

Eligibility to Vote

  1. You must be a US Citizen
  2. Be born on or before Feb. 28, 2005
  3. Live in your precinct least 30 days before the election
  4. Not be in prison or jail serving time for a conviction. Ex-convicts who have been released from prison/jail and who meet all other requirements listed above are eligible to register and vote in Illinois. Ex-convicts who have been released and are on parole/probation ARE eligible to register and vote in Illinois.

Early Voting

Early voting in all 50 Wards of Chicago and at the two downtown Chicago sites for the April runoff will begin Monday, March 20 and run through April 4 (Election Day). All 50 ward early voting sites and the Board Supersite (191 N. Clark St. ) will be open as vote centers on Election Day. All locations are ADA-compliant and fully accessible to voters with disabilities.

March 20 – April 4
Weekdays: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Election Day: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Supersite (191 N. Clark) and Board Offices (69 W. Washington) will have extended Weekday hours, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Monday, March 27 through Friday, March 31, and on Monday, April 3.

Voter Registration

Same-day registration is available at all early voting sites and on Election Day. Voters must bring two forms of ID, with at least one that includes their current address. In Illinois, you do NOT need to show identification to vote after you have voted the first time, nor should election workers ask you for ID. You can vote on Election Day or early, and in-person or by mail. In addition, you can also request your ballot and election materials in a non-English language.

Voting by Mail

Your application to vote by mail must be received by 5 p.m. on Feb. 23. Once you receive your ballot, fill it out and then mail it in, or put it in an official drop-box.

Voting on Election Day

You can vote in person on Election Day at the precinct/polling location assigned based on your address or at the 50 early voting locations across the city.

Map: Election Day Voting Locations

Chicago Mayor’s Race: Vallas and Johnson Headed to April 4 Runoff Showdown

By Brian Chan, Karlie Sanchez, Laaiba Mahmood and Manny Meraz • March 1st, 2023

Paul Vallas Photo

Paul Vallas makes a point during his speech Tuesday night. He was the leading vote-getter
and will face Brandon Johnson in the runoff April 4. (Photo/Lulu Anjanette)

To nobody’s surprise, Chicago’s most-contested mayoral race in decades is headed for an April 4 runoff — with Paul Vallas against Brandon Johnson.

Incumbent Lori Lightfoot (17.1% of the vote) conceded the race at 8:45 p.m. CT Tuesday night, setting the stage for Vallas (33.8%), backed by the police union, and progressive Johnson (20.3%) in the runoff.

Candidates Chuy Garcia (fourth place with 13.7%) and Willie Wilson (fifth place, 9.5%) refused to concede Tuesday night, citing the mail-in ballots yet to be counted. Mail-in ballots cannot be counted until election day, which means 80,000 to 90,000 vote-by-mail ballots won’t be immediately reflected in election-night results. Candidates can challenge and demand recounts in the coming weeks, which could delay the final decision until mid-March. The process could take several days.

Slideshow: Photos from the election night parties

Voter turnout was low again this election, with only 32.1% of the city’s 1.58 million voters casting ballots, with the mail-in ballots that came in Tuesday — estimated at 60,000 to 80,000 — yet to be counted.

Coverage from the four leading candidates’ election-night parties.

Paul Vallas

Paul vallas photo

Paul Vallas stressed public safety in his speech to supporters Tuesday night. (Photo/Brian Chan)

By Brian Chan

With his rallying cry of “public safety as a civil right,” mayoral candidate Paul Vallas is headed to the April 4 runoff election to face Brandon Johnson.

We will make Chicago the safest city in America.” said Vallas, promising change to not just public safety but the city’s operations as a whole. “This city has never really been the city that works for everyone, but it will be when I am mayor.”

Vallas, the former Chicago Public Schools superintendent backed by the police unions, was the top vote-getter with 33.8%. Johnson led Lightfoot by more than 3 percentage points when the incumbent took to the stage around 8:45 p.m. to concede the race.

With Lightfoot out, supporters shared their excitement for the changes Vallas promises.

“I voted for Lori last time and she let me down,” said Omar Shareef of the African American Contractors Association.

Others agreed. “It’s time for a change,” said attendee Robert Western.

Vallas served as CPS superintendent from 1995 to 2001. He went on to become the CEO of the School District of Philadelphia and was also the superintendent of the New Orleans Recovery School District after Hurricane Katrina, where he managed the restoration and reorganization of the city’s schools.

Vallas has held a variety of high-profile government jobs in addition to his work in education. He worked as the city of Chicago’s budget director under Mayor Richard M. Daley, and then as the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. He previously ran for governor of Illinois in 2002 and subsequently served as Pat Quinn’s deputy governor.

Using his experience from New Orleans, Vallas campaigned to reorganize dying or dead schools and turn them into job training centers and charter schools. Additionally, he looks to open school campuses over the summer. He believes that this will not only increase the attendance and graduation rates at schools but also impact the pipeline of youths to crime. 

He also looks to stem the tide of crime among younger Chicagoans by embracing violence reduction strategies like CRED and taking on a ‘less combative’ leadership role.

Video: Vallas on his experience and qualifications as mayor

Vallas said during the WBEZ forum that a large part of his solution to crime would be to call upon the CPD reserves. He looks to bolster the CPD with reserve officers in order to create an opportunity for detectives to rise out of the ranks. He believes that in order to stop crime the city needs more detectives to aid in the capture and prosecution of criminals. 

Doubling down on the importance of incarceration rates, Vallas went on to state that he plans to increase funding to the witness protection program in order to give the prosecution a leg up during trial. 

These policies are based on his self-described “technocratic problem solver” approach he shared on WGN radio. During a talk hosted at UIC by WBEZ in February, Vallas said he would lead with “more promotions, less friends and family.” 

When describing his crime policies, he often refers to his family: “I come from a family of police officers,” he has said in multiple interviews and in forums.

His competition, mainly Lightfoot, have criticized him for accepting Republican campaign funding. Vallas defended that, saying he is a lifelong Democrat and that “individuals who have contributed to Republicans have contributed to [Lightfoot’s] campaign as well.”

Video: Vallas talks about public safety and CPS

Brandon Johnson

Brandon Johnson photo

Brandon Johnson steps to the podium to celebrate making the runoff against Paul Vallas. (Photo/Karlie Sanchez)

By Karlie Sanchez

Brandon Johnson is headed to the April 4 runoff against frontrunner Paul Vallas, and he didn’t hesitate to go after his opponent Tuesday night when addressing his supporters at the El Palais Bu-Sché banquet hall in West Garfield Park.

Vallas (33.8%) had a 13 percentage-point lead on the progressive Johnson (20.3%) on Tuesday night. Knowing he has ground to gain in the runoff, Johnson launched an attack on frontrunner Vallas in his speech.

“He switched parties when President Obama became the president of the United States,” Johnson told an enthusiastic crowd. He is more of a Republican than anything else. He said that he fundamentally opposes abortion. As head of the Chicago Public Schools, he ran the teachers pension fund into the ground, closed neighborhood schools and punished students who were in need.” 

Xavier Mcaden, a supporter of Johnson, said that he “is excited for the outcome in April and looking forward to seeing the things Brandon accomplishes once he becomes mayor, especially with the youth programming.”

Johnson’s supporters gathered, cheered and chanted. “Go Brandon Go Brandon Go Brandon.” They sang and danced in the crowd as the good vibes were everywhere.

“We didn’t just get here y’all,” Johnson said. “We’ve been about this work and so for the sake of our children, for the sake of our families, the challenges that are ahead of us Chicago we can defeat the structural inequalities, we have built a multi-racial, multi-generational movement. We can build a better, stronger, safer Chicago and tonight is just the beginning. So do me a big favor in Chicago, so the whole world can know, Brandon is better.”

During his campaign, Johnson said being collaborative as mayor is important because he recognizes the value of his efforts when it comes to serving the City of Chicago. Johnson said in an interview with CBS News that is why the investment in people is important. 

Johnson began his career as a public school teacher, first at Jenner Academy in Cabrini-Green and then at Westinghouse College Prep on the West Side, where he experienced firsthand how school closures, unemployment and gun violence impacted his students and their communities. 

He went on to become an organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union, where he led multi-racial coalitions to defend neighborhood schools from privatization, reduce high-stakes standardized testing and expand access to state funding.

As a former teacher, and strives to provide students in Chicago a resourceful, supportive, safe, and healthy learning environment. His campaign highlights the importance of development efforts in schools, trauma-informed approaches to violence, and improving access to technology. He also highlighted that city aid should not be cut, and rather it should be increased. 

Johnson created a plan for stronger school communities and is striving toward a fully resourced, supportive, safe. He has plans for Bilingual Ed and real sanctuary in CPS, child care for all, expand the sustainable community schools model to city colleges, fully funding, staff, and resourcing, housing the unhoused, and a pan for students to ride the CTA for free. 

When he stepped to the stage Tuesday night to thank supporters and prepare for the runoff, he was greeted with enthusiasm as he shared to the crowd: “A few months ago they said they didn’t know who I was. Well, if you didn’t know, now you know.“

Brandon Johnson photo

Supporters cheer on Brandon Johnson at his party. (Photo/Karlie Sanchez)

Lori Lightfoot

By Laaiba Mahmood
Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her reelection bid Tuesday night, becoming the first sitting mayor to not make it to the runoff since the system was introduced 24 years ago.

At 8:45 p.m. Lightfoot conceded the race with only 17.1% of the vote. Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson advance to the runoff in April.

At a small event closed to the public at the Mid-American Carpenters Regional Council building, Lightfoot addressed supporters after becoming the first one-term Chicago mayor in 40 years.

“Obviously, we didn’t win the election today,” Lightfoot said over a Facebook videostream. “But I stand here with my head held high and a heart full of gratitude.”

At the podium, Lightfoot listed successes from her time in office.

“I’m grateful that we worked together to remove a record number of guns off our streets, reduced homicides, and started making real progress on public safety,” she said.

Read more: Lightfoot campaign denies Red Line Project journalists access

During her tenure, Lightfoot dealt with issues of civil unrest, the pandemic, crime and more.

In the weeks leading up to the election, Lightfoot sparred with other mayoral candidates – particularly Vallas – at a number of debates and forums when they criticized her record as mayor. The top issues the candidates discussed included crime, police reform, education and transportation.

At a forum hosted by WBEZ at UIC, Lightfoot reiterated her confidence in her policies to address crime and gun violence, citing that her office has increased mental health funding to address violence at its root.

“All of our 77 neighborhoods have culturally relevant, free mental health services and for the first time in our city’s history, we are serving children and adolescents,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve increased the amount of funding for mental health sevenfold over my tenure. [There is] more work to be done there.”

Lightfoot also defended attacks from other mayoral candidates on the state of public transportation in the city, claiming that the pandemic was to blame for decreasing CTA ridership.

Lightfoot, 60, came in first in the 2019 municipal general election with 17.5% of the vote. She easily beat Toni Preckwinkle in the runoff election, making history when she was elected as the city’s first openly gay Black female mayor in April.

Lightfoot’s February 2019 election night party was at EvolveHer, a female-focused co-working space in River North. She recalled that night, speaking once again to young people of color as she did four years ago.

“Believe that you can bring about change, that you matter,” Lightfoot said. “And believe you can love who you want to love and do what you want to do and be who you want to be. You will not be defined by how you fall. You will be defined by how hard you work and how much you do good for other people.”

Chuy Garcia

Chuy Garcia photo

Chuy Garcia and his supporters celebrated anyway. (Photo/Manny Meraz)

By Manny Meraz

The 2023 mayoral campaign appears to be coming to an end for Chuy Garcia, who was in fourth place with 13.74 percent of the vote behind Paul Vallas, Brandon Johnson and Lori Lightfoot. Only the top two candidates advanced to the runoff, but Garcia refused to concede the race Tuesday night, saying he wanted to have mail-in votes counted in the upcoming days.

 Garcia and his supporters had much to be happy about as many members of “Team Chuy” won their aldermanic races: Gil Villegas , Jeylu Gutierrez and Michael D. Rodriguez, among others.

Many supporters showed up to Garcia and his team’s election night party at the Apollo 2000 theater and were treated to a live Mexican band for four hours. Despite the disappointing mayoral result, the campaign was celebrated. 

Video: Band plays at Chuy Garcia’s election party 

Garcia saw many highly influential supporters show up on his election night party, including former Illinois Fov. Pat Quinn, who has publicly endorsed Garcia for mayor.  o

When asked about what the future mayor of Chicago would have to do for the city, Quinn said, “Public safety is important, but so are the jobs. Economic growth… it’s important for the candidates who made it to the run-offs to do what Chuy has done his whole life and that is bringing people together.”

Quinn added: “The (voter) turnout was disappointing, but the candidates deserve a lot of credit for doing their very best… it is important in Chicago that we get reforms that are long overdue where we give voters the chance to vote on issues and the candidates … people would turn out more if they had that opportunity.”

The poor turnout for  Garcia was a surprise to many as many had expected him to pull more of a fight. 

Despite the loss, Garcia made sure his supporters had a good time with the live music and food bar. Garcia addressed his supporters and talked about what running for mayor of Chicago meant to him and what he vows to see change in Chicago. 

Video:  Garcia addressing his supporters after his defeat in the 2023 Chicago Mayoral election. 

Garcia previously served terms with the Chicago City Council, Illinois State Senate, Cook County Board of Commissioners and the U.S House of Representatives.

This was Garcia’s second attempt for mayor, his first being in 2015, a race in which he lost to the incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel. Garcia obtained 43.77 percent  of the vote in that mayoral election, and the second now ends in the municipal election, not making it to the runoff election this time and only obtaining 13.77 percent of the vote. 

Garcia had raised $2.3 million for this election, the biggest donation being $1 million from the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Garcia had many plans to help change Chicago and one of them is to protect women’s rights. Garcia planned to continue to protect abortion rights by allowing women to make their own choices about their bodies. He has said he wanted to ensure that women could make those decisions safely in the city of Chicago without having to go to other states risking their health to seek an abortion. 

Garcia also planned on building trust within neighborhood communities and the Chicago Police Department by developing community policing systems and community programs in which people of the community can build relationships with officers and build trust between the two. 

During the campaign, he talked about his desire to reduce gun violence, saying he wanted to hire more Chicago Police Officers and hire a new CPD superintendent.

Garcia also recently opened up about his son Sam and his affiliation with gangs in Chicago and how he almost lost his son to the gun violence in Chicago. Having his own experience with gangs and gun violence in the Little Village neighborhood, Garcia vowed to use that experience to help young men all over Chicago if he were elected as mayor. 

Garcia still wants young men in Chicago to know the many options that they can rely on rather than going into the so-called “street gang” life. Garcia wants to educate these young men to help make the streets of Chicago safer. 


Aldermanic Race Results: Many New Faces Headed to Runoff on April 4

By Ricardo Brum, Michael Clark and Brielle Conwell • March 1st, 2023

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 photo

Angela Clay greets supporters at her election-night party. (Photo/Ricardo Brum)

46th Ward

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.

Public Safety
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.

Other Policies
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.

48th Ward

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.

43rd Ward

Timmy Knudsen photo

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?”

1st Ward

Daneil La Spata Photo

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.

Lightfoot Campaign Denies Red Line Project Journalists Access on Election Night

By Laaiba Mahmood  • March 1st, 2023

Editor’s note: This is Laaiba Mahmood’s first-person account of why she was denied access to Lori Lightfoot’s election-night party along with Red Line Project photographer Lulu Anjanette. Anjanette left to cover the Paul Vallas event. Mahmood wrote this story.

Lori Lightfoot’s PR team cited fire code and room capacity restrictions for denying me entry to their election night event at the Mid-American Carpenters Regional Council building, despite trying to RSVP to the event for over a week prior. 

When I arrived at the press check-in table after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, I said that I had been in contact with Hannah Goss, a campaign spokesperson for Lightfoot’s election campaign. 

Multiple staffers were sent to hear my concerns, which they then passed on to Goss.  Goss said I would not be allowed entry into the event because I did not RSVP and that they could not make an exception because of fire codes. 

“We might be turning away attendees at the door as well,” Goss said. 

I was at the venue until 8:30 p.m., just 15 minutes before Lightfoot came on stage and conceded the race. I did not witness a single person get turned away except for me. 

Goss returned 30 minutes after initially turning me away. When I asked for precise information on the fire code and room capacity limits, Goss asked, “So you can write about not being let into the event?” 

When confronted about a reporter who entered the room without being on the press list, Goss said, “I’ve been talking to that reporter for a week.”

I was also in contact with Goss for over a week via phone and email, and was never once given the opportunity to RSVP to the event. 

In the week leading up to the event, I was told that the venue was small, there would be limited press access and that I should not expect to be let into the event. The morning of the event, I told them I would show up anyway.

Meanwhile, my colleagues had no issues attending the election night events of other top contenders for mayor.

The Lightfoot PR team allowed the publications they wanted in the room to enter, including a Washington Post reporter who was not on the RSVP list. 

Mike Reilley, founder and editor of The Red Line Project and a UIC senior lecturer, said this is unprecedented in the site’s 13-year history.

“We have covered elections at the federal, state and local levels and have NEVER been denied access to an election night event,” he said. “That includes President Obama’s reelection, several Illinois gubernatorial candidates, US Senate and House races, as well as mayoral and other municipal races. Our reporters contacted the Lightfoot campaign more than a week prior to the event and asked to be added to the list. It’s a case study in poor media relations.

“Fortunately, our reporters covering the Vallas and Brandon Johnson campaigns were treated professionally on election night. We look forward to covering both of those candidates in the runoff election on April 4.”

Slideshow: Photos from the election night parties