Six ward races still up in the air as younger, more diverse City Council takes shape

Candidates declared victory in at least three of those tight contests, but no one was conceding defeat with thousands of outstanding mail ballots.

SHARE Six ward races still up in the air as younger, more diverse City Council takes shape
Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth (left) speaks to supporters at her 48th Ward election night party; Rival candidate Joe Dunne (right) casts his ballot on Tuesday.

Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth (left) speaks to supporters at her 48th Ward election night party; Rival candidate Joe Dunne (right) casts his ballot earlier Tuesday.

Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

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A day after the polls closed on Election Day, six of Chicago’s 14 City Council runoff races were still too close to call.

In at least three of those tight contests, a candidate has declared victory — but none of the opponents was conceding defeat with thousands of outstanding mail ballots that could still arrive to be counted over the next two weeks.

Regardless of how the final votes land, the city is certain to see a younger and more diverse Council sworn in next month, with a record number of Latino members elected to City Hall.

Chicago could also tie a record with 18 women sworn in as elected Council members if Tuesday night’s unofficial results hold in the 48th Ward on the North Side, where Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth is aiming to make history as the Council’s first Filipino American.

Manaa-Hoppenworth, a community organizer, has declared victory with 51.9% of the vote over affordable housing developer Joe Dunne, who was backed by retiring Ald. Harry Osterman.

But Dunne still wasn’t giving up Wednesday, trailing by 602 votes with almost 2,400 ballots that could arrive by mail by April 18. Citywide, about 52% of outstanding mail ballots ended up being sent in after the Feb. 28 general election, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

“We’re going to let the next few days play out. It’s important to let every voter be heard,” Dunne campaign manager Erika Caldwell said.

Manaa-Hoppenworth’s campaign said they were confident with most of the mail ballots coming from precincts where she won with large margins.

Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, a local business owner and political organizer, takes a selfie with her supporters and volunteers at Furama restaurant in Uptown Tuesday night.

Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, a local business owner and political organizer, takes a selfie with her supporters and volunteers at Furama restaurant in Uptown Tuesday night.

Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

Manaa-Hoppenworth would join 11th Ward Ald. Nicole Lee as the only Asian Americans on the Council, with Manaa-Hoppenworth potentially following Lee as the second-ever Asian American woman sworn into the legislative body.

If Manaa-Hoppenworth takes the seat, 18 women will be in City Council chambers next month, an increase of three since 2019 that would match the high set in 2007.

In the Northwest Side’s 30th Ward, Ruth Cruz, an assistant director of admissions at Roosevelt University, declared victory with 51.3% of the vote over Jessica Gutiérrez, the former policy director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and the daughter of former U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez.

The younger Gutiérrez was not conceding defeat, as she trailed by 260 votes with 1,380 that could still be counted.

Whoever wins, there will be 14 Latino council members sworn in next month, a new record and an increase of two since the last election cycle.

21st Ward candidate Ronnie Mosley submits his vote at Wendell Green Elementary at 1150 W 96th St, Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

21st Ward candidate Ronnie Mosley submits his vote at Wendell Green Elementary at 1150 W 96th St, Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

In the South Side’s 21st Ward, organizer Ronnie Mosley declared victory with 52.1% of the vote over retired firefighter Cornell Dantzler, who was not conceding. Dantzler was down by 547 votes, with up to 1,404 mail ballots still potentially on the way.

“We believe those mail ballots are going to work in our favor,” Dantzler said.

If Mosley’s lead holds, he’d become the youngest member of the Council at age 31 — about five months younger than Angela Clay, another Council newcomer who won resoundingly in Uptown’s 46th Ward Tuesday night.

The win by Clay, who turned 32 last week, promises to increase the number of Black City Council members by one, to 20 members, since the pending outcomes in two other runoffs in majority-Black wards will elevate African Americans to the Council no matter who wins.

Angela Clay brings her ballot to the voting machine at Joseph Brennemann Elementary School in the Uptown neighborhood on Tuesday.

Angela Clay brings her ballot to the voting machine at Joseph Brennemann Elementary School in the Uptown neighborhood on Tuesday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Incumbent Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) was clinging to a narrow lead to hold onto his West Side City Council seat, leading with 51.4% of the vote, by a margin of 286 votes over community activist CB Johnson. There were 953 outstanding mail ballots.

In February, Taliaferro fell just 25 votes shy of a majority that would have spared him a runoff.

In the South Side’s 5th Ward, community organizer Desmon Yancy was leading with 51.8% of the vote over lawyer Tina Hone. They were separated by 394 votes, with 1,406 outstanding mail ballots.

Desmon Yancy, who is running for the 5th Ward Council seat, smiles with a supporter in the South Shore neighborhood on Tuesday.

Desmon Yancy, who is running for the 5th Ward Council seat, smiles with a supporter in the South Shore neighborhood on Tuesday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“I don’t think it’s fair to the people who have been supporting me the past six months to concede. I think there’s a real chance we will push over the top,” Hone said.

Either Mosley or Clay will take the “Council’s youngest” mantle away from 32-year-old Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd), the appointed incumbent who has celebrated “his apparent win” but stopped just shy of declaring victory Tuesday night over challenger Brian Comer, president of the Sheffield Neighborhood Association.

Knudsen led with 51.7% of the vote, by a margin of 529 votes with up to 2,910 more ballots potentially on the way. Comer wasn’t conceding.

Contributing: Sophie Sherry

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