UPTOWN — An Uptown political organizer is running again to become 46th Ward alderperson after forcing incumbent Ald. James Cappleman into a runoff and losing by a razor-thin margin last election.
Marianne Lalonde announced her second run for the 46th Ward seat this month. Lalonde first ran for the office in 2019, when she and other candidates forced Cappleman into a runoff election after the sitting alderperson did not garner more than 50 percent of the vote.
Lalonde and Cappleman went head-to-head in the runoff. The race required two weeks of vote counting as the candidates were neck-in-neck. Cappleman eventually won by 25 votes.
Lalonde said the issues discussed three years ago have not been solved.
“I don’t think very much has changed in our neighborhood since the last election in terms of how things are run,” Lalonde said. “Definitely, housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable. We really need to focus as a whole city on environmental protections.”
Lalonde has remained politically active in Uptown. She helped start the Lakeview Uptown Independent Political Organization. The group seeks to organize neighbors around progressive policy causes, and some members participated in a protest outside Cappleman’s home over police reform measures.
Lalonde has also been involved in the fight over the development of Weiss Hospital’s parking lot, which a national developer wants to turn into 314 apartments.
The project was approved by the city after Cappleman gave his support and allowed his advisory zoning board to change its vote on the matter.
Lalonde said the ordeal exemplifies officials’ wrong priorities on housing and approach to local governance.
“You can’t engineer your community process to fit your will and still call it a community process,” she said. “I think we are developing at a rate that we need to examine. We need a better community process around it.”
It is not yet clear if Lalonde will be in a rematch with Cappleman.
The three-term alderperson has not yet publicly announced his plans for the February election. Cappleman did not return requests for comment.
Lalonde said she wanted to jump in again to make sure a progressive, science-based approach to governance is represented in the race regardless of whether Cappleman runs for reelection.
There were at least six candidates in the 46th Ward race in 2019.
“It’s extremely important that the 46th Ward have a change in leadership so the voice of the community is accurately reflected in City Council,” Lalonde said. “At this point, I’m uncertain who else intends to run for this seat. … Regardless, there are aspects of my candidacy I think are objectively valuable, including a background working in sustainability and a history of community activism.”
One thing that has changed since 2019 is the emergence of coronavirus. As an energy efficiency professional, Lalonde said she would be the first Ph.D. scientist on City Council.
Lalonde hopes to use that knowledge to advocate for greater public health policies and environmental protections in Uptown and across Chicago, she said.
That includes advocating for new green infrastructure in the ward, advocating for environmentally friendly components in the rebuilding of DuSable Lake Shore Drive and protecting Montrose Harbor’s natural areas.
“More than ever, it’s important to have people who have scientific training at all levels of government,” Lalonde said. “Let’s talk about like preventative measures we can take and planning for a level of climate change that’s inevitable. This is a lakefront community, and that’s one of our biggest assets.”
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