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Cappleman To Replace Shiller In Uptown’s 46th

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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) – Social worker James Cappleman will succeed 24-year veteran Ald. Helen Shiller to represent the Uptown neighborhood’s 46th Ward in the City council.

With all precincts reporting, Cappleman had won 55 percent of the vote, or 5,502 votes, compared with 45 percent, or 4,422 votes, for attorney Molly Phelan.

Cappleman will now become the second openly gay alderman in the City Council. The first, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has represented the ward directly to the south since 2003.

Cappleman is also expected to be the first alderman ever to take advantage of the state’s new civil union law, according to Gay Chicago Magazine. The alderman-elect and his partner, Richard Thale, said during the campaign that they plan to enter into a civil union after the law goes into effect this summer, the magazine reported.

Cappleman’s Facebook page says he spent the morning thanking voters at the Wilson ‘L’ stop in the heart of Uptown.

Cappleman ran unsuccessfully against Shiller in 2007, criticizing her for a lack of response to crime and violence in the neighborhood.

During the latest campaign, voters were also 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 Chicago Reader’s Ben Joravsky reported that in courting Shiller’s voting bloc in the runoff campaign, Cappleman emphasized he had “always been a liberal” and was concerned about the disadvantaged, just as Shiller had been.

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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