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Uptown Activist, Political Organizer Angela Clay Announces 2nd Run For Alderwoman

Clay seeks to become the progressive choice in the open race for the 46th Ward seat being vacated by Ald. James Cappleman.

Angela Clay speaks at the launch of her aldermanic campaign July 9, 2022.
Michelle Gan
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UPTOWN — A local activist and fourth-generation Uptown resident wants to become the neighborhood’s next alderperson.

Angela Clay is vying for the 46th Ward office being vacated by Ald. James Cappleman, who is retiring in 2023 after three terms.

Clay was among several hopefuls challenging Cappleman in the 2019 election that saw the incumbent narrowly retain his City Council seat. But with Cappleman’s retirement, Clay hopes to usher in a new era of progressive leadership in Uptown, one that is centered in grassroots coalition building, she said.

“I don’t think that our constituents and our neighbors have felt their voices adequately being heard,” Clay said. “Especially not from the last election that we had four years ago. … We really have an obligation to make sure that they’re heard.”

Credit: Michelle Gan
Angela Clay (right) speaks with Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd).

Clay grew up in an affordable apartment building in Uptown and was exposed to political activism at an early age through her grandmother, she said. She went to Uplift High School in the neighborhood.

She serves as an organizer with Northside Action for Justice, a progressive group that advocates for economic and social justice.

Clay has been active in local political causes, including the fight against a luxury apartment building planned for a Weiss Hospital Parking lot, the loss of single-room occupancy units in Uptown and the plight of low-income residents in one subsidized Rogers Park building.

As leader of the 46th Ward, she said she would translate that grassroots political energy into the office to better serve constituents and push for progressive policy.

“The policies that have been put in place in our ward speak for themselves,” she said. “It’s really a time for individuals to bond together and really make their voices stand out at the forefront and hold people accountable for what they say they represent.”

Clay launched her candidacy for the 46th Ward seat July 9 at an event attended by progressive city leaders, including Alds. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) and Byron Sigcho-Lopez (18th). Former Uptown Ald. Helen Shiller was also present, according to her campaign.

Clay was fourth in a field of six for the 46th Ward seat in 2019, earning 15.4 percent of the vote. Cappleman was forced into a runoff against Marianne Lalonde and won re-election by just 25 votes.

Lalonde also is back in the 46th Ward race this year, as is Kim Walz.

Clay said she is running again to build on the momentum that started in the 2019 race and has continued through the organizing on local issues since the last election.

“It didn’t really matter who threw their hat in the ring,” Clay said. “People just want to feel like their voices are adequately being listened to and represented in a way that feels authentic to them.”

Clay said her campaign will focus on issues of housing affordability, school investment and making sure social services and nonprofits aren’t further forced out of Uptown.

The affordable housing Clay grew up in is increasingly hard to find in Uptown, while resources are being drained from neighborhood institutions like Uplift, Clay said. Those trends will have to be reversed if Uptown is to remain welcoming to all, she said.

“If you want to know why [African Americans] are leaving the city of Chicago, it is because, well, we can’t afford to live here. Or we can’t afford to live in places that actually care about our children’s wellbeing, their safety, their education, their health,” she said. “My family literally is trying to maintain its foothold [in Uptown]. We are all trying to make sure that our future generations have this same amazing, dope ward to live in.”

Credit: Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
Uptown resident Angela Clay speaks out against a proposed development on Weiss Hospital’s surface parking.

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