UPTOWN — “It’s going to be a nail-biter,” Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said as votes began to be counted Tuesday night.
He was right. The race was so close, in fact, it’s not going to be settled Tuesday night.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Cappleman had 6,692 votes to Marianne Lalonde’s 6,669 (50.09 percent to 49.91 percent) — leaving it within reach of a flip-flop at the top when mail-in ballots are counted in the coming days.
“This will definitely come down to mail-in ballots,” Cappleman. “Aren’t elections fun?”
Earlier Tuesday night, Lalonde said, “We are enjoying ourselves over here but it’s a real nail-biter.”
With just 23 votes separating the two, no one was ready to declare victory. Mail-in ballots had to be postmarked by the end of the day Tuesday and arrive within 14 days. The election is certified on April 16, after 14 days of counting.
Cappleman raised the possibility that if he wins it could be his final term.
“Everybody is different, but for me, three terms would probably be enough,” he said.
During the campaign, a central issue in the ward was development. The ward, which includes most of Uptown and parts of Lakeview, has undergone massive changes and displacement has become a real fear for many, as shown when Stewart Elementary School was closed and began being converted into high-priced luxury apartments.
Lalonde and Cappleman’s other challengers argued that while the ward may have once been a bastion for affordable housing, lately the scales have started to tip toward developer interests. She criticized Cappleman for allowing too many developers to avoid building affordable units on-site by paying into the Low-Income Housing Trust Fund.
But Cappleman maintained incentivizing developers is the best way to continue to spur progress while also providing for those in need of housing. If you don’t properly incentivize the developers then you will lose out on affordable housing altogether, he said.
“I want a process that incentivizes more affordable housing throughout the city,” he said.
As Election Day drew closer, Cappleman was under more scrutiny than usual after taking over as head of the zoning committee following the exit of disgraced Ald. Danny Solis (25th).
Cappleman highlighted his many years of experience as alderman and a ward resident. At every turn, Cappleman was quick to point out what he called a lack of experience from Lalonde, citing her less than four years living in the ward.
Lalonde campaigned against Cappleman’s record in office, aligning herself with Lori Lightfoot (the two endorsed each other in January) and advertising herself as a reform candidate. She was a stark critic of Cappleman’s handling of the Lincoln Yards development at City Hall.
In the Feb. 26 election, Cappleman received 44 percent of the vote to Lalonde’s 18 percent. But challengers Erika Wozniak and Angela Clay collectively received more than 32 percent of the vote. Clay and Wozniak endorsed and campaigned for Lalonde.
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