By: Marisa Panella (Loyola Sophomore), Lauren Pause (Loyola Sophomore), and Julia Soeder (Loyola Freshman)
A contentious race for the position of 48th Ward Alderman is now down to housing developer Joe Dunne and small business owner Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth.
The two will face off in the runoff election on April 4, since none of the ten original candidates received above 50 percent of the vote during the primary election. Dunne finished with 26 percent while Manaa-Hoppenworth secured 23 percent, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The previous 48th Ward Alderman, Harry Osterman, was elected in 2011 and has remained in office for over a decade. A change in power means the chance for new ideas and projects within the community according to Manaa-Hoppenworth.
“We have a choice right now and the choice is clear. We can go for progress and we can go for what doesn’t work, what hasn’t worked, what is the status quo,” said Manaa-Hoppenworth.
Both candidates have gained attention through their endorsements, Dunne by former 48th Ward Alderman Osterman and Manaa-Hoppenworth by mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson.
On Wednesday night, the Association of Sheridan Condominium/Co-op Owners (ASCO) hosted a forum at the Emmanuel Congregation where community members had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues with the candidates. Manaa-Hoppenworth was at a memorial service for trans community member Elise Malary and could not be in attendance for the forum. Topics discussed included economics, housing, taxes, and city proposals. The stream can be found here.
With such razor-thin margins after the first round of votes and similar levels of prestige with endorsements, the rhetoric during the race has focused on a few key issues such as policing, affordable housing, and industry.
Dunne and Manaa-Hoppenworth reflected on the exciting opportunity to be one of the candidates who advanced to the runoff.
“I feel good. I’m eager to earn the support of even more 48th ward residents on April 4th. Our campaign is stronger than ever, with a top-notch ground game. I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue to engage with neighbors across the ward and share with them my plans for how we can work together for a better, more sustainable future for the 48th ward,” said Dunne.
Manaa-Hoppenworth has expressed lots of excitement over being a part of this election and is proud of the teamwork that made her runoff candidacy possible.
“We worked really hard. There were a ton of us on February 28 and we got the votes and we were successful. We got a lot of people to join us on our path to victory. Voters are saying that they want a leader that is going to stay true to community values and they want representation. People are telling me at the doors that they’re excited to see somebody that can represent their voices and also somebody who’s already been doing the work to get things done. They want to see something more than a band-aid solution, something beyond the status quo,” said Manaa-Hoppenworth.
Crime and Safety
Dunne has tried to separate himself from Manaa-Hoppenworth with his stance on safety.
Dunne feels that although programs need to be in place to combat the root of crime, i.e. mental health problems and economic inequity, it is also important to emphasize the impact of having a police presence and feeling protected in Chicago.
“I find Leni’s disregard of accountable, honest police to be unsettling. While I strongly believe that the root causes of crime must be addressed via increased access to mental health, job-readiness training, and affordable housing I also recognize the necessity of accountable, empathetic police to stop violent crimes,” said Dunne.
Manaa-Hoppenworth has a different approach to Dunne on issues of public safety. She believes in prioritizing the use of mental health workers in times of emotional crisis rather than defaulting to police use.
“I want to be somebody who centers what we need. If everybody had what they need, including housing, and health care, including mental health support, then we would all be safer,” said Manna-Hoppenworth.
Her solution comes in the form of a program known as “Treatment, Not Trauma” which advocates for non-police responses to mental health crises, according to Manaa-Hoppenworth.
Housing and Business
Despite their disagreements over the best way to handle public safety, both candidates are able to agree on the importance of addressing housing issues.
Dunne believes his many years of experience as vice president at an affordable housing developer, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, is a huge strength that voters should take note of.
“I have real experience building non-profit affordable housing. I know how to get it done. I have real experience working with state and local governments to achieve change. Leni has an obvious and admirable conviction of spirit, but lacks the experience and circumstantial knowledge to accomplish real change in our ward,” said Dunne.
At the ASCO forum, Dunne was asked about the Bring Chicago Home proposal. The Bring Chicago Home campaign is a proposal that plans to place an additional tax on properties valued over a million dollars. The ordinance would take the additional income from the tax to fund housing projects for the homeless.
Dunne said, “I think it’s a critical need. I’m supportive of the need. I would like to see the Bring Chicago Home proposal pass, but I think one of the reasons it hasn’t passed is just the structure of how it’s written. I’d like to see it restructured, when and how the tax comes in or when the increase in the tax comes in.”
Although Manna-Hoppenworth may not have the experience that Dunne has, she also supports the “Bring Chicago Home” ordinance and its plan to give financial relief to those who are homeless in Chicago.
“We need to help people get back on their feet and we need permanent solutions to our housing insecurity crisis, not just in Chicago, but across the nation. We need a permanent funding solution. And so it’s got to be housing first and then getting people the wraparound services that they need…We need to work together to get the votes to pass the bills that can help more people,” said Manna-Hoppenworth.
Another way Manna-Hoppenworth plans to help out her fellow 48th Ward residents is through the bolstering of small businesses. As a small business owner herself, Manna-Hoppenworth knows firsthand the value of shopping locally.
“We have to support small businesses because if we don’t, then they are going to shatter. And if you support a local business 70 percent of your dollar stays within the local economy. So that’s what we want, otherwise, we’re going to see big corporations and chains come in. But they don’t contribute to the character of neighborhoods like small businesses,” said Manna-Hoppenworth.
Both candidates spoke about the hard work they have put in to try and earn the votes of the residents. With such a small margin separating the two candidates during the first round of votes, it is clear to both Dunne and Manna-Hoppenworth that every vote will count in this runoff election.
Early voting has already begun across the ward, to find out more information on voting visit the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.