Ortiz: Analyzing key races in the upcoming Chicago municipal elections

Sterling Kossuth Ortiz, Senior Staffer

Chicago is gearing up for the upcoming municipal elections, with various candidates vying for seats across the city. We’ll focus on some candidates endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America.

The most likely pickups for the DSA in city council this year are in the 46th and 48th ward elections. Both wards are on the city’s North Side, situated along the Red Line. Both wards contain incumbents who chose to retire rather than face tough political challenges. This is where the similarities end.

The 46th ward is predominately white and includes the neighborhoods of Uptown, Buena Park and Sheridan Park. Running to replace Ald. James Cappleman (46th) is DSA candidate Angela Clay. She ran for the same seat in 2019 with little support but came in fourth place. This cycle, she’s running with solid backing from the Chicago branch of the DSA, the Chicago Teachers Union and Ald. Matt Martin (47th).

Four other viable candidates running against Clay are Kim Walz, 2019 runner-up Marianne Lalonde, Roushaunda Williams and Patrick Nagle. While I can see the runoff going to any two of these five candidates, at the moment, I predict it’ll be between Angela Clay and Kim Walz, both of whom are endorsed by influential politicians such as Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Running for the 48th ward is DSA candidate Nick Ward. Ward, a restaurant worker, is a first-time candidate. Like Clay, he has support from the DSA, CTU, and other non-profit organizations. However, Ward’s biggest rival is Joe Dunne, a housing developer in Chicago. Dunne has support from incumbent Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) and the Chicago Federation of Labor, among other organizations. Because of Dunne’s fundraising efforts and endorsements, I expect him to win the election. Ward will likely battle University of Chicago Prof. Larry Svabek and Indivisible Illinois co-founder Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth for the second runoff spot.

While I think DSA-endorsed candidates across the city have a good shot at winning their races, I think some of their candidates are most likely to lose. The 10th ward — the largest in Chicago — has a majority Latine population and borders Indiana. This ward is idiosyncratic, with a history of voting for progressives and conservatives. This election will likely come down to endorsements.

The 10th ward candidate Óscar Sanchez garnered recognition for stopping General Iron from establishing operations in his ward out of environmental pollution concerns. He’s also raised $85,000and has endorsements from the DSA, CTU and mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson. Unfortunately for Sanchez, he might be facing the best overall candidate in the city this cycle.

Enter his main opponent, Ana Guajardo. Her fundraising slightly lags Sanchez’s, giving him an edge of almost $15,000. Guajardo has big endorsements from nearly every union chapter in Chicago, including two different Ironworker local chapters and left-leaning Service Employees International Union chapters. Most importantly, she is endorsed by Jesús “Chuy” García, which will likely be the deciding factor in Guajardo’s win.

The last two DSA-endorsed candidates are Ambria Taylor in the 11th and Warren Williams in the 30th ward. I don’t think either of them has a chance to win because they face strong opposition and do not match the ward’s demographics.

Despite Taylor’s character and work ethic, she’s a left-leaning, white woman running in the now-majority Asian 11th ward. She is running against Chicago’s first Chinese alderperson, Ald. Nicole Lee (11th). A win for Taylor seems unlikely.

Williams’ primary opponent is Jessica Gutiérrez, who nearly beat incumbent Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) in 2019. She is also the daughter of former U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), who was the only Latine representative from Chicago until 2018. Beating Jessica Gutiérrez — given the power of her last name and her near-success in 2019 — would be hard enough for another Latine candidate to win, so for Williams, who does not publicly identify as such, does not really stand a chance.

The 2023 Chicago municipal elections are shaping up to be fascinating, with candidates from different backgrounds and political ideologies fighting for their respective seats. The DSA-endorsed candidates will have a tough fight on their hands, but some of them have a good chance of making it to the runoff. While the election results are hard to predict, it’s essential to keep an eye on the various candidates and their respective campaigns, as these elections will significantly impact Chicago’s future.

Sterling Ortiz is a SESP fifth-year. You can contact him at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.