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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Mitchell Armentrout

With CTU help, Clay claims North Side’s 46th Ward seat, as Knudsen struggles to hold 43rd Ward appointment

Community organizer Angela Clay casts her ballot on Tuesday as election coordinator Lyda Jackson watches at Joseph Brennemann Elementary School in the Uptown neighborhood. (Pat Nabong/Sun-Times)

Community organizer Angela Clay won the North Side’s 46th Ward Tuesday night, with the Chicago Teachers Union-backed candidate poised to become the youngest member of the City Council. 

Another far-left progressive organizer was poised to make history in the nearby 48th Ward, where Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth declared victory in her bid to become Chicago’s first Filipina alderperson — but her opponent, affordable housing developer Joe Dunne, wasn’t ready to concede the race. 

And in the affluent 43rd Ward, appointed incumbent Ald. Timmy Knudsen suggested his slim lead over challenger Brian Comer would be enough to extend his brief City Hall tenure — but Knudsen wasn’t asserting victory yet, and challenger Brian Comer wasn’t giving up. 

With thousands of outstanding mail ballots that could still trickle in over the next two weeks, the only consensus North Side runoff result went in favor of Clay, in the ward spanning Buena Park, Uptown and Lakeview East.

With all precincts reporting, Clay carried nearly 56% of the vote compared to 44% for business executive Kim Walz, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley who had been backed by her former boss and other establishment Democrats, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker. 

There were still almost 3,500 outstanding mail ballots, but Walz conceded less than two hours after the polls closed. 

Clay, 31, replaces outgoing 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman. She’ll bring the total number of Council seats held by African Americans to 20, making up for the loss of the predominantly Black 34th Ward that was remapped last year and moved from the Far South Side to the Near West Side.

Angela Clay celebrates Tuesday night at Carol’s Pub after winning the 46th Ward aldermanic runoff. (Kade Heather/Sun-Times)

“It feels amazing to never give up on your dreams, never give on your neighbor and to really stick by your values,” Clay said at her election night party at Carol’s Pub. “I think we all agree that we desire a safe community, that we desire affordable housing across incomes and that we deserve neighbors who are making decisions for our community together instead of outside corporations or special interest groups.”

Clay was backed by far-left organizations as well as Chicago’s mayor-elect, Brandon Johnson. Most of her campaign funding has come from the CTU, the Illinois Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union.

The same progressive coalition boosted Manaa-Hoppenworth in the 48th Ward, which spans Andersonville, Edgewater and part of Uptown. 

Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth speaks in front of her supporters and volunteers at Furama restaurant in Uptown Tuesday night. (Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times)

With all precincts reporting, Manaa-Hoppenworth declared victory with nearly 52% of the vote. 

Dunne had 48%. Down by a margin of barely 600 votes — with 2,944 outstanding mail ballots — the candidate backed by outgoing 48th Ward Ald. Harry Osterman was not conceding. 

Celebrating at a Chinese restaurant in Uptown, Manaa-Hoppenworth told the Sun-Times by phone that she was confident in the trajectory of the outstanding mail ballots — and that she was excited to double Asian American representation in the City Council alongside 11th Ward Ald. Nicole Lee, who followed up her appointment last year with a landslide win Tuesday night

“This is significant not only in the 48th Ward but for all of the city of Chicago,” Manaa-Hoppenworth said. “The voters were telling me at every door I knocked on that they wanted to make sure everybody had what they needed: housing, health care, safety and opportunity.”

The wave of wins for progressive candidates across Chicago shows “voters are tired of doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same results,” Manaa-Hoppenworth said. 

Ald. Timmy Knudsen (left) and challenger Brian Comer participate in a 43rd Ward candidate forum at Lincoln Park High School last month (Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times)

In the 43rd Ward, the 32-year-old Knudsen was poised to lose his title as the Council’s youngest member in favor of Clay — but he suggested he was on the path to victory over Comer in Lincoln Park, Old Town and the Gold Coast. 

Knudsen had nearly 52% of the vote with all precincts reporting, edging out Comer’s 48%. The margin in favor of the incumbent, who was appointed last fall by outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot, was 529 votes. There are almost 3,400 outstanding mail ballots. 

“I was beyond humbled to be appointed to this position as the first LGBTQ alderman in the 43rd Ward, as the youngest member of the Chicago City Council and now I can’t even stress how grateful I am to say that we have been elected to serve,” Knudsen told supporters at a Lincoln Park restaurant. 

Knudsen’s campaign later clarified that he was “very optimistic,” but not declaring victory. 

Comer said he was “cautiously optimistic” and urged patience: “It may take days or weeks before we know the final vote totals, but I am humbled and honored at the show of support by the residents of the 43rd Ward,” Comer said in a statement.

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