Waguespack: New coalition of progressives

Ald. Scott Waguespack predicted Ald.-elect James Cappleman would join him and others to form a progressive caucus. “We’re building a progressive coalition in City Council with James, Michelle Smith, John Arena and others who won in the first round. We should have a good solid block of reform or progressive caucus.”

Ald. Scott Waguespack. Credit: Waguespack for Chicago

That caucus could be up to 14 members according to some counts. “With a new mayor and a shift in City Council we’ll move ahead,” Waguespack said.

“There are two privatization deals they are trying to push before the new council takes over. The first is the O’Hare concessions and the second is the privatization of recycling,” he said.

“We’re going to try to pass the asset lease ordinance to prevent swift privatization” such as happened with the parking meters Waguespack said. “If we can’t get that through we’ll push a council oversight ordinance to have the council overview contracts of more than $500,000. The council needs to step up.” The council should “start reading documents and have oversight of what happens in the city,” Waguespack said.

“Even with the incumbents who were elected, I don’t think they have a lot of breathing room with regard to privatization or messing up contracts,” Waguespack told The Bulldog. “Mayor Emanuel wants to move things forward. He has a small window of opportunity with the budget crisis to act swiftly on a few issues. I think the council acting to use oversight will move the city forward on those issues.”


Changing Demographics in 46 Ward spelled end of Shiller

The Cappleman win came four years after a defeat at the hands of City Council veteran Helen Shiller.

Shiller had built a popular political base in the 46th Ward. Working a campaign to extend low income housing, shelters, and institutional living into the large apartment buildings in the Ward, she had been noted as an early opponent of Mayor Richard Daley.

However, the demographics of the Ward changed as low cost housing attracted younger and more affluent residents. Their concerns were about crime and development, not providing housing opportunities to the poor.

Cappleman was a key to expressing those concerns, working to create positive loitering efforts and working with the community to battle crime.

Embracing Daley’s use of TIFs Shiller became personally identified with a redevelopment of the CTA Wilson Yards, located north of Broadway and Montrose.

Wilson Yards development became a political battle ground. Phelan played a key role opposing Wilson Yards, waging a legal battle over the development. The developer in turn suing to learn the identities of persons making largely negative comments in on-line forums such as Uptown Update. And Shiller seeming to turn on her constituents.

Shiller began to seem distant and unresponsive to residents needs.

Shiller blamed the public and in particular blogs and bloggers for her problems. Her announcement that she would retire was treated with enthusiasm by many in Uptown.

In the end, Shiller seemed a relic of a by-gone age when progressives fought for people who couldn’t fight for themselves. As the Ward became more affluent, it could fend for itself, but still needed an alderman on its side.

Instead, it found itself locked in long legal and community battles with an alderman who was convinced they were right and everyone else was wrong.

The result, 11 people running for the office and a legacy of divisiveness.


Eleven candidates, no clear leader


As the February general election approached it became clear that voters were having difficulty separating the candidates. Bulldog political writer Michael Volpe remembers going to a forum where all the candidates spoke. The lengthy forum only proved confusing.

Don Nowotny, the Ward Supervisor under Shiller, was believed by many to be an early contender for the aldermanic seat.

But events in the Ward were working to Cappleman’s favor. A rash of shootings and murders brought media attention to the violence in the Ward. It was an issue Cappleman was well positioned to benefit from due to his work in ‘Blood Alley’ and on CAPS.

Phelan collected money from family and interests outside the ward while Cappleman developed a system to farm money from supporters, returning again and again for their support. In addition, The Bulldog noted that Phelan’s contributions were mostly large donations while a significant part of Cappleman’s donations were in small denominations.

Following the General Election, Lauren Peters, Cappleman’s campaign manager, confided to The Bulldog that Cappleman was matching Phelan’s A-1 filings with their combination of large and small contributions.

As the race dragged through March each side became more desperate. The break appears to have been a political push poll by the Fraternal Order of Police that was perceived as homophobic.

Phelan was asked to repudiate the poll, but refused. In a Ward perceived as gay-friendly this may have been the end.

In the final week of the race a forum between the two candidates at Truman College attracted close to 400 persons. There Shiller attacked both candidates, but especially Cappleman. Again, it is difficult to know for certain, but the unpopular Shiller may have energized the race to the benefit of Cappleman.


Among run-off elections Cappleman’s margin was among the top half of all run-offs since 2003, just missing being among the top third of all run-offs.


  1. Joann Thompson 16th Ward 2011 (2,037 or 56.38 percent);
  2. Willie Cochran 20th Ward 2011 (2,359 or 53.59 percent);
  3. Toni Foulkes 15th Ward 2011 (2,412 or 68.68 percent);
  4. Theodore “Ted” Thomas 15th Ward 2003 (2,419 or 54.36 percent);
  5. Toni Foulkes 15th Ward 2007 (2,795 or 60.22 percent);
  6. Joann Thompson 16th Ward 2007 (2,981 or 56.48 percent);
  7. Latasha Thomas 17th Ward 2011 (3,124 or 52.64 percent);
  8. Michael Chandler 24th Ward 2011 (3,273 or 60.48 percent);
  9. Sharon Denise Dixon 24th Ward 2007 (3,304 or 51.5 percent);
  10. Danny Solis 25th Ward 2011 (3,898 or 54.13 percent);
  11. Joe Moore 49th Ward 2007 (4,027 or 51.61 percent);
  12. Rey Colan 35th Ward 2007 (4,076 or 62.3 percent);
  13. Pat Dowell 3rd Ward 2007 (4,517 or 53.97 percent);
  14. Scott Waguespack 32nd Ward 2007 (4,179 or 50.73 percent);
  15. Vi Daley 43rd Ward 2007 (4,483 or 53.88 percent);
  16. Timothy Cullerton 38th Ward 2011 (4,722 or 60.29 percent);
  17. Roderick Sawyer 6th Ward 2011 (5,080 or 50.62 percent);
  18. Freddrenna Lyle 6th Ward 2003 (5,193 or 55.52 percent);
  19. Manuel “Manny” Flores 1st Ward 2003 (5,290 or 58.73 percent);
  20. James Cappleman 46th Ward 2011 (5,502 or 55.44 percent);
  21. Nicholas Sposato 36th Ward 2011 (5,629 or 56.25 percent);
  22. Michele Smith 43rd Ward 2011 (5,803 or 51.17 percent);
  23. Debra Silverstein 50th Ward 2011 (5,931 or 61.6 percent)
  24. Bernard Stone 50th Ward 2007 (6,015 or 53.11 percent);
  25. Howard Brookins, Jr. 21st Ward 2003 (6,015 or 50.54 percent);
  26. Lona Lane 18th Ward 2007 (6,053 or 67.48 percent);
  27. John Arena 45th Ward 2011 (6,053 or 50.12 percent);
  28. Bob Fioretti 2nd Ward 2007 (6,175 or 65.7 percent);
  29. Howard Brookins, Jr. 21st Ward 2007 (6,423 or 60.81 percent);
  30. Mary O’Connor 41st Ward 2011 (7,332 or 50.92 percent);

*** UPDATED 04/06/2011 3:13A ***


Cappleman: I’ll reach out

James Cappleman, Lauren Peters and Richard Thale hug, cry and dance on election night. Credit: Jane Rickard

Community activist James Cappleman defeated Molly Phelan in the 46th Ward Tuesday, scoring 5,502 votes or 55.44 percent in the runoff. Cappleman and Phelan had been separated by just five votes following the February General Election, a virtual dead heat.


Cappleman gained an additional 2,770 votes in the runoff. His final victory was within 500 votes of retiring Ald. Helen Shiller’s 2007 general election win.

32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack said “it was a great victory. When you look at the other 13 runoffs, this was a wide margin.”

Waguespack said the victory gives Cappleman political capital, he showed “he gained a lot of votes during the runoff, giving him a mandate to work on the issues he talked about.”


Shiller General Election Results 2003 and 2007

  • 5,987 or 53.1 percent for Helen Shiller in 2007 general election;
  • 6,240 or 57.91 percent Shiller’s in the 2003 general election.


Election results came in quickly with the result decided by 8:30P and the last ballots counted by 10P.

James’ first order of business tomorrow is to thank everybody,” Cappleman’s campaign manager Lauren Peters said at an election night party at Nick’s Uptown. “We had an army out there today. Everybody did their jobs. It was pretty amazing.”

A number of issues marred the race on election day, including the Chicago Board of Elections not printing the signatures of voters on precinct lists. That led to some voters being challenged, according to Uptown Update. However, voters were able to cast provisional ballots and the States Attorney quickly stepped in where there were questions according to Peters.

People who had voted for years could be challenged,” Peters explained. “The Phelan camp also said James Cappleman conceded, and we had to deal with that. There was a lot to handle, but we were prepared.”

Cappleman told The Bulldog about his win “we campaigned for 4 ½ years. It hasn’t hit me yet.” Rocking to the tune Tiny Dancer, Cappleman, Peters and Cappleman’s long-time partner Richard Thale formed a tight knot in the middle of the crowd at the back of Nick’s Uptown. Bringing their heads together into a huddle the three began rocking back and forth to the music. There was an electric feeling in the air. “Uptown is free,” one person yelled.

Cappleman sounded overwhelmed saying that after he worked the El stops thanking voters he would “go to work.”

Regarding his priorities, Cappleman said he would be an alderman too for the GLBT community. “The city hasn’t seen an elected official in a committed relationship. They’ll see that we are like any other couple,” Cappleman noted. (Ald. Thomas Tunney is also openly gay. However, Tunney’s partner is not well known among politicians or the public).

Among Cappleman’s priorities will be to extend survivors benefits to GLBT partners. He also paused, took a breath and talked about the campaign. “I’m about building bridges with Molly and the other candidates who ran,” Cappleman said. “There are other groups too. Even groups that were afraid of my election. I’ll be reaching out to them too.”

James Thale, Cappleman’s partner predicted he would be ready for his new role supporting Cappleman. “We’ve been partners and have discussed” what will happen. “What’s really important,” Thale said, “regardless of orientation, this is a community and we’ll work together for the community.”

Thale said he plans to continue his activist role in the community and looks forward to “doing what he’s always been doing.”


Cappleman a healing force


Michael Carroll, an opponent of Cappleman in the general election, credited the win to the positive message Cappleman maintained despite personal attacks on him. Carroll said he noted Cappleman’s field organization too, “People were very happy to vote for Cappleman. James was a good candidate. They didn’t vote against other candidates but voted for James. It was a positive campaign.”

When people go into the negative realm you take away from yourself. James always talked about what was good,” Carroll said.

*** UPDATED 04/06/2011 2:30A***


Cappleman spent a lot of time at Wilson during the campaign and he is expected to greet voters there on Wednesday morning.

Phelan campaign: Proud of our campaign

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.

Molly Phelan. Credit: Phelan for 46

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.

Because the story broke less than a week before the election, it’s impossible to know the effect the revelation had on the 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”.

An emotional and drained Phelan addressed her followers just after 9P. “One of the things you don’t realize going in is how hard it can be.” Phelan thanked her friends and family for all their support concluding, “I’m so honored to have everyone here.”

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***


Uptown decision tonight- #46race on Twitter

A short ballot (just one position to decide on and only two candidates) and a small election run-off promise to make this a fast election night.

We are suggesting using the following hashtag for Twitter: #46race

The following web site will have unofficial results from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. It is MUCH faster than watching television: http://www.chicagoelections.com/wdlevel3.asp?elec_code=24

The Bulldog has coverage arranged tonight from Molly Phelan and James Cappleman’s parties. We’ll also hope people call in from other wards in the city.

Catch us on Twitter tonight. http://twitter.com/chibulldog or search for tweets based on #46race from several writers.


Final hours of 46th Ward Race

Things are getting hot in Uptown as the election is just hours away now. Let’s go to our friends at Uptown Update first:

This last minute stuff is why the Bulldog let the candidates know it was stopping coverage except for select news as of Friday 3P.

Here are a few of the stories we did not follow-up on. We strongly urge your skepticism about these stories as they have not been fully investigated.

Shiller defends legacy at forum

Like a prizefighter past their prime, a referee who doesn’t ‘get’ it or an aging child star recalled for a bit part, Monday’s 46th Ward forum at Truman College starred someone who wasn’t on the marquee: Helen Shiller.

The retiring alderman moderated a forum between James Cappleman and Molly Phelan. Moderating in this case meaning she drilled James Cappleman to support keeping a city funded health clinic open in the Uptown neighborhood.

Lecturing and interrupting Cappleman, then taking issue with Phelan, she asked the candidates to defend statements made by supporters who had led an assault on her management of the Ward.

At one point, Shiller noted that Wilson Yards, a controversial project funded in part by TIF funds, was a done deal. “Supporters of both of you” opposed the project, she declared. Then she asked what the candidates would do to support the project moving forward.

It was an electric performance, as promised, by a divisive personality.

“Shiller is a big personality,” Owen Brugh, Molly Phelan’s communications campaign manager said. “I think she contributed a lot- she was a big draw for people” tonight.

Lauren Peters, Cappleman’s campaign manager, said about the Shiller performance “it was an opportunity for her to protect things she’s protected for 24 years.”

Neither campaign would characterize Shiller’s interruptions and lectures as out of line. Peters noting that Cappleman respected Shiller’s desire to defend herself.

Cappleman’s partner, Richard Thale, said he was confused by Shiller’s questions. “she was giving ‘interesting’ worded questions,” Thale said. “I had trouble understanding her at times.”

In two days of 46th Ward debate, it was not the shadow of Shiller’s management of the Ward but finally Shiller herself who came to dominate the final debate in the divided ward.

Aldermanic candidate James Cappleman, Ald. Thomas Tunney and retiring Ald. Helen Shiller at Truman College forum, Mon. Mar. 28. Credit: Jane Rickard

Phelan came off as the slightly greener of the two candidates, fumbling answers about TIFs (no, they don’t ‘take’ money from public schools. But they do force taxes to increase faster because there is a smaller tax base for the public schools to use.) and SSAs (Special Service Areas are limited to spending money directly related to the SSA. Thus they cannot help deter crime even a block away from their districts. Plus there are issues with the use of SSAs to provide city services seen in Ravenswood).

Cappleman meanwhile caused a murmur in the crowd as he defended the city’s right to license and control temporary housing for the homeless. Saying he had helped found a shelter himself, he called on minimum standards such as locked cabinets for pharmaceuticals. That drew a rebuke from Shiller who noted she wasn’t aware of any case of a homeless shelter holding pharmaceuticals and from Phelan who said such controls would only increase the costs associated with providing the short-term housing.

Phelan comes off as a bit stiff in front of a group. One woman noted her Coach bag, complete with a Coach leather tag though the moment that comes to mind was at the People’s Church forum.

There, Phelan and Cappleman were asked to ask the other candidate one question. Phelan used the opportunity to ask a softball question of Cappleman. The overall affect was puzzlement among the crowd. Why not use the opportunity to differentiate herself from her opponent? The reason may be that Phelan wants to be the everyman, but knows she appears stiff.

It happened again at Truman as Tunney asked the two candidates about the Cubs. Phelan responded with a comment about the Cubs going all the way. That drew applause and some light laughter too.

It was a moment that may have marked Phelan as one of us: A person who believes despite the evidence. That time it may have worked to demonstrate Phelan isn’t so stiff.

Cappleman’s biggest asset is the large group of supporters he brings to the forums. When asked about why a particular building is so enthusiastic about his candidacy, supporters talk about how he helped them organize the positive loitering campaign they credit with discouraging crime.

And that too summarizes Cappleman. Not only does he have plans, he has often walked the walk on community issues in Uptown.

*** UPDATE 3/29/2011 11.22 Owen Brugh was misidentified as Molly Phelan’s campaign manager. Mr. Brugh is the communications manager for the campaign. The campaign manager is Karen Lazar. We regret the error. ***


*** UPDATE 3/29/2011 11.38 AND we spelled Ald. Shiller’s name incorrectly on every line. DUH! Sorry***


46th Ward forum tonight; Hot ticket and electricity

The ticket to get tonight is the 46th Ward forum being hosted by Ald. Helen Schiller and Ald. Thomas Tunney.

Electricity can be expected in this debate just due to the presence of Schiller. Her administration of the ward and in particular her response, or lack of response, to a perception of increased crime has been an ongoing theme in the 2011 municipal election in the 46th Ward.

In addition to crime, Schiller steamrolled the Wilson Yard TIF district and the development of that property over the objections of many community members.

Both Molly Phelan and James Cappleman have promised greater responsiveness and recognition of grievances.

The two candidates also both support of the concept of a music entertainment district in the heart of Uptown.

However, the two candidates agreement on that issue does not mean they are clones. There are significant differences between the two candidates in the area of experience and community involvement.

We urge all members of the 46th Ward to take an active part in the upcoming election. We urge any undecided electors to attend the forum on Monday.