UPTOWN – A local activist and fourth-generation Uptown resident wants to become the neighborhood’s next councilman.
Angela Clay is in the running for the office of the 46th precinct vacated by Ald. James Cappleman, who retires in 2023 after three terms.
Clay was among several hopefuls challenging Cappleman in the 2019 election that saw the incumbent narrowly retain his city council seat. But with Cappleman’s retirement, Clay hopes to usher in a new era of progressive leadership in Uptown, one centered on grassroots coalition building, she said.
“I don’t think our constituents and our neighbors felt their voices were heard enough,” Clay said. “Especially not since the last election we had four years ago. … We really have an obligation to make sure they are heard.
Clay grew up in an affordable apartment building in Uptown and was exposed to political activism from an early age through her grandmother, she said. She went to Uplift High School in the neighborhood.
She is an organizer of Northside Action for Justice, a progressive group advocating for economic and social justice.
Clay has been active in local political causes, including the fight against a luxury apartment building planned for Weiss Hospital parking lot, the loss of one-bedroom occupancy units in Uptown, and the plight of residents low income in a subsidized building in Rogers Park.
As leader of the 46th Ward, she said she would translate that grassroots political energy into office to better serve voters and push for progressive politics.
“The policies that have been put in place in our neighborhood speak for themselves,” she said. “It’s really a time for individuals to bond and really raise their voices and hold people accountable for what they say they stand for.”
Clay launched his bid for the 46th Ward seat on July 9 at an event attended by progressive city leaders including Alds. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) and Byron Sigcho-Lopez (18th). Formerly Uptown Ald. Helen Shiller was also present, according to her campaign.
Clay finished fourth in a field of six for the 46th Ward seat in 2019, obtaining 15.4% of the votes. Cappleman was forced into a runoff against Marianne Lalonde and won re-election by just 25 votes.
Lalonde is also back in Ward’s 46th race this year, as is Kim Walz.
Clay said she is running again to build on the momentum that began in the 2019 race and has continued throughout organizing local issues since the last election.
“It doesn’t matter who threw their hat in the ring,” Clay said. “People just want to feel like their voice is heard and adequately represented in a way that feels authentic to them.”
Clay said his campaign will focus on issues of housing affordability, investing in schools, and ensuring that social services and nonprofits are no longer pushed out of Uptown.
The affordable housing Clay grew up in is increasingly hard to come by in Uptown, while resources are being drained from neighborhood institutions like Uplift, Clay said. These trends will need to be reversed if Uptown is to remain welcoming to all, she said.
“If you want to know why [African Americans] leave the city of Chicago, it’s because, well, we can’t afford to live here. Or we can’t afford to live in places that actually care about our children’s well-being, their safety, their education, their health,” she said. “My family is literally trying to keep its footing [in Uptown]. We are all trying to ensure that our future generations have this same amazing and dope neighborhood to live in.
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