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Social Worker, Attorney Up For Rematch In 46th Ward

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Molly Phelan, James Cappleman

Molly Phelan (left) and James Cappleman will face off to represent the 46th Ward. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A social worker and an attorney will meet again on April 5 in the battle to replace Helen Shiller as 46th Ward alderman.

Eleven candidates ran in the often heated race for the seat. The ward includes most of the Uptown neighborhood.

With all precincts reporting, Phelan and Cappleman came within six votes of each other, each with a total of 20 percent. Phelan won 2,712 votes, Cappleman 2,706.

Speaking to CBS 2’s Mike Parker, both candidates said the city’s budget crisis was among their chief concerns.

Phelan said the city needs “obviously, budget cuts to make our government run more efficiently.” As to pay raises for elected officials, she added, “I think we probably deserve a little bit of a cut ourselves right now.”

Cappleman expressed a desire to collaborate with the new mayor-elect.

“Rahm Emanuel is very focused on the city’s budget crisis, and I certainly want to join him in working on that, because I think that’s paramount,” he said.

Attorney Emily Stewart, who was endorsed by the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, came in third with 15 percent of the vote. Three other candidates – Streets and Sanitation ward supervisor Don Nowotny, former Heart of Uptown Coalition executive director Marc Kaplan, and Chicago Police officer Michael Carroll, also won more than 1,000 votes apiece.

Voters had been riled up about blatant gang crime and street thuggery in Uptown. Most infamously in 2009, neighbors complained about gang fights that were erupting regularly in the middle of the street at Sheridan Road and Leland Avenue.

For many years, Shiller was a frequent punching bag for critics who accused her of being soft on crime and unconcerned about blight. When the gang fights were breaking out, critics accused Shiller of going missing in action.

But Shiller was also credited recently with bringing a new 200,000 square-foot Target store to the long vacant Wilson Yard, along Broadway between Wilson and Montrose avenues.

The race to replace Shiller also gained notice in the fall, when vandals targeted two candidates’ offices. Bricks were sent flying through the window at Capppleman’s campaign office on Broadway, and at the campaign office for candidate Andy Lam, at 1131 W. Argyle St.

Also targeted around the same time was the field office of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) at 5533 N. Broadway. Schakowsky shares the office with state Rep. and 48th Ward alderman-elect Harry Osterman (D-Chicago), state Sen. Heather Steans, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, and outgoing Ald. Mary Ann Smith (48th.)

Shiller had served in the City Council since 1987, and had a reputation as a budget expert. But she had lived in Uptown since the 1970s, and together with community organizer Walter “Slim” Coleman, she helped found the aforementioned Heart of Uptown Coalition, a left-leaning social service organization.

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