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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

In Uptown And Edgewater, New Political Groups Push Progressive Agendas — And Pressure Local Aldermen

Both groups want to influence the views of Alds. James Cappleman (46th) and Harry Osterman (48th), and they are prepared to back challengers in the 2023 elections.

Jill Leslie talks about 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice at a press conference announcing the formation of an independent political organization.
Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
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UPTOWN — Two political organizations have formed on the Far North Side and aim to influence — or possibly replace — two aldermen.

The 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice announced Monday they have launched an independent political organization, a distinction that allows the group to formally organize around causes and candidates.

It is the second independent political organization to be created on the North Side this year. In May, a group of political organizers established the Lakeview Uptown Independent Political Organization.

The groups, which they say have over 300 members between them, are advocating for progressive reforms to policing, housing and education policy.

Both groups also seek to influence the views of Alds. James Cappleman (46th) and Harry Osterman (48th), and they are all but promising challengers to the two powerful aldermen in the 2023 elections.

“Nice isn’t good enough,” Mary Difino, a member of 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice, said Monday. “We need politicians with power to wield it and use it boldly.”

Credit: Facebook/48th Ward Neighbors for Justice
48th Ward Neighbors for Justice helped organize this rally at Broadway and Foster Avenue in late June.

The groups have not been shy in their quest to see more progressive policies adopted by their local aldermen.

In late June, 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice helped organize demonstrations outside Cappleman and Osterman’s offices, with hundreds calling for the adoption of the police reform measure known as the Civilian Police Accountability Council.

The 48th Ward group announced its political organization outside Osterman’s Edgewater office. Members of the group have staged “silent protests” next to nine of the alderman’s outdoor office hours. They have posted flyers asking Osterman, the chair of the City Council’s housing committee, to take bolder actions on protecting renters during the coronavirus crisis.

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“We unabashedly believe in leftist values,” said Margo Gislain, co-chair of 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice. “If the elected officials in those wards don’t represent those, they can expect to see opposition.”

The Lakeview Uptown Independent Political Organization was started by organizer Eli Stone and Marianne Lalonde, who ran against Cappleman and pushed him to a runoff vote in 2019. The group is focused on the 46th Ward, which covers Uptown and a portion of East Lakeview.

RELATED: Protesters To Picket 2 North Side Alderman Offices, Demanding Civilian Oversight Of Police

The group participated in a rally outside Cappleman’s home this summer, calling on the alderman to adopt police reform measures. Group members are meeting on topics like affordable housing and police accountability, and they will work to support candidates who push those efforts in future elections, Stone said.

“People feel the need to create community and fight back so that their needs are being heard,” Stone said.

With three years until their next elections, Cappleman and Osterman said they are not so focused on future campaigns.

“The city has a great deal of challenges,” Osterman said Tuesday. “That’s what my staffers and I are focused on.”

Cappleman said the more voices working on complex issues, the better. But there are ways to engage with people that are more constructive than others, he said.

“You can use bullhorns to yell, but I prefer to talk,” Cappleman said. “The whole idea is, once you find out where you agree, you can work on that.”

The 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice will host a launch event during the Labor Day weekend. Both groups will continue to organize and advocate for progressive reforms.

“We are here to imagine a better world, and then we’re going to create it ourselves,” Gislain said.

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