The evening started in a hopeful manner in the Riviera Theater on election night April 5, 2011. The home base of Molly Phelan was hoping that she’d pull out a hard fought victory.
The campaign had become dirty and slimey after her opponent’s surrogates began suggesting that some of Phelan’s attacks had homophobic undertones. Phelan had portrayed Cappleman as soft on crime saying his plan amounted to, “anger management and flowers.”
It’s the sort of accusation that’s impossible to prove because it’s a subjective observation. Yet, surrogates of Cappleman suggested this attack was a veiled attack on his homosexuality. One complainant, Daniel Layman, said, ”It’s the subliminal stuff that’s more insulting to me. If you want to want to lead a ward with a significant gay population, you’d best stay away from saying things like referring to candidates as weak and portraying them as not interested in anything but decorative objects and planting flowers.”
Looking at it more crudely, Cappleman, who will join Tom Tunney as the only two openly gay Aldermen, played that card. The 46th Ward has a significant constituency in the LGBT community so such an attack is a game changer in this Aldermanic election.
A somber Karen Lazar, the campaign manager remarked, “I’m very proud of the campaign”. Lazar put a happy face on a devastating defeat. Grim reality hit at about 8:15. It became official and Phelan had been beaten soundly 55.44 percent to 44.66 percent. The final tally had Cappleman getting 5,502 while Phelan only got 4,422. Lazar eventually summed up her mood when she said, “I’ve had better days.”
Jeremy Winters, a volunteer, summed up the mood of the crowd, “what happened tonight was tragic,” continuing, “we know who’s best for this job”.
She encouraged her followers to stay active, “please stay involved, stay involved in your community.”
The evening wasn’t somber for everyone. Laura Pawlowski, an intern currently enrolled at Loyola University, said she really enjoyed, “getting out there, talking to voters, and the random things that happen in the campaign. The different people you get to interact with.”
Pawlowski says she joined the Phelan campaign because, “I wanted to make sure I found the right candidate that was in line with what I wanted to do in the ward.”
The positive effect this internship had on Pawlowski could be felt when she fluently and confidently analyzed the political and demographical differences in the ward.
Pawlowski explained that the neighborhoods that make up 46 form an eclectic group of areas each with their own set of issues. She referred to that phenomenon as “secularized”. For instance while some areas of 46 consider gangs to be the biggest problem where she lives, Pawlowski says, “we don’t really have that many problems.” It’s the sort of deep analysis you can only attain by being deeply involved in an Aldermanic campaign.
Pawlowski could enjoy a career as a pollster, political operative, and campaign manager if she plays her cards right but one career she’s not likely to have is poll watcher, “I’m not a passive person. So, poll watching- marking things on a piece of paper is not something I want to do.”
The closest race of the evening came in 45 where John Garrido lost by 29 votes to John Arena. Roderick Sawyer was able to defeat incumbent Freddie Lyle in 6. Meanwhile, the long and epic career of Berny Stone came to a humiliating end as he got trounced by Debra Silverstein 61% to 39%. Danny Solis barely held on in 25, and finally, there will be no Republicans in the City Council, after the Republican lost in their only incumbent seat 41.
*** UPDATED 04/06/2011 2.22A***