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