History is made in Chicago. James Cappleman won a runoff election last night to represent the 46th Ward on the Chicago City Council. The Victory Fund-endorsed Cappleman will become the city's second openly gay alderman on the city council of 50 members.
Cappleman won by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent over [Molly] Phelan, a property tax attorney. Cappleman, a former teacher, licensed social worker and community activist, will now represent the Uptown district of Chicago replacing long time Alderman Helen Shiller who did not run for re-election after 24 years of service. Cappleman's long-time partner of 18 years, Richard Thale, is chair of the 23rd Police District's Court Advocacy Committee and a [Community police] facilitator.
Cappelman's opponent had been criticized in recent weeks for an increasingly negative and homophobic tone, adds Windy City Times. Community "members accus[ed] Phelan of employing flyers with anti-gay undertones. At least one of the flyers criticized Cappleman's plan to address crime in the ward as consisting of 'anger management classes and flowers.'"
Neighborhood residents also complained after being contacted by gay-baiting telephone push-polling, adds the Victory Fund's Gay Politics blog. One reported question: "Knowing that [ Cappleman's ] only crime agenda is to plant flowers and hang out on Halsted Street, would you vote for him or [ Phelan ]?”
Cappleman will join the neighboring 44th ward's Tom Tunney as the city"s only openly gay elected aldermen.