Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth Wins Tightly Contested Race for 48th Ward Alderperson

In a tightly contested race which came down to the very end, Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth triumphed over Joe Dunne in the race for 48th Ward Alderperson.

In a tightly contested race which came down to the very end, Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth triumphed over Joe Dunne in the race for 48th Ward Alderperson. 

Manaa-Hoppenworth came out ahead with 51.89% of the votes, totaling 8,257. Joe Dunne received 48.11% of the votes, with a total of 7,655. The 48th Ward had the second-highest number of total votes at 15,912, behind the 45th Ward at a total of 16,437, according to Chicago Elections.

Manaa-Hoppenworth, the first queer Filipina candidate to run for the 48th Ward, held her campaign night celebration at Furama Restaurant, a Chinese spot close to the Argyle Red Line stop. The upstairs dining room was filled with campaign staff, volunteers, advocacy groups and supporters who watched the votes tally up throughout the night.

As the final precincts reported their votes, Manaa-Hoppenworth spoke to The Phoenix and thanked her supporters for their hard work. She said she is eager to begin the process of hiring an office which will be ready to help her constituents.

“Thank you for voting and for being part of this community,” Manaa-Hoppenworth said to the Loyola community. “I can’t wait to do great things together.”

Manaa-Hoppenworth has roots in the small business community of the 48th Ward. She’s a board member of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce and has been the owner of Chicago Dance Wear since 2003. She is also the co-founder of voter support groups Indivisible Illinois and ILVOTE and the founder of the Indivisible IL9 Andersonville-Edgewater branch, according to her campaign website.

Manaa-Hoppenworth and Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson endorsed each other in their respective races. She was also endorsed by Alderperson Maria Hadden of the 49th Ward, Illinois Congresswoman Delia Ramirez and Cook County Commissioner Josina Morita, according to her campaign website.

A few blocks north in Edgewater, Joe Dunne and his supporters gathered in the back room of Burke’s Public House, a neighborhood bar which had attendees standing shoulder-to-shoulder during the event. 

As results rolled in, the energy in the room grew somber. Runoff election results scrolled by on TVs while Dunne’s family and supporters chatted.

Dunne is a lifelong resident of the 48th Ward. He served on the Local School Council of Peirce Elementary and the defunct Edgewater Community Council. Dunne is also the vice president of development at nonprofit Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, a developer that creates affordable housing units across Chicago, according to his campaign website.

With 100% of total votes reported, Dunne said he is holding out for remaining mail-in ballots, as they could be postmarked up to April 4, according to the Chicago Board of Elections.

“The only statement there is is we’re still waiting for votes to be counted,” Dunne told The Phoenix. “We’ll see what happens in the next few days.”

Christian Kulfan, a volunteer on Dunne’s campaign, said he thought Dunne was better for the local economy. 

“I am a little worried, because I fear for the small businesses in the ward,” Kulfan told The Phoenix. “When small businesses talk to Joe, they’re reassured.”

Spirits were high within Manaa-Hoppenworth’s campaign event. Joz Sida, her campaign manager, said she was grateful to the volunteers who helped canvas for support. Sida said it was fate that brought her to Manaa-Hoppenworth’s campaign after 15 years of campaign experience.

“I am truly honored to be in this moment with Leni because we are making history,” Sida told The Phoenix. “I think that was a big motivation for all of us that were part of the campaign.”

After her office staff are hired, Sida said Manaa-Hoppenworth will listen to the community’s concerns about public safety and will work with law enforcement and connect with service organizations that already exist in the community. 

“The number one priority for the entire ward is public safety,” Sida told The Phoenix. “One of the things Leni ran on is not penalizing poverty and having treatment, not trauma.”

One of the advocacy groups present at Manaa-Hoppenworth’s event was Asian American Midwest Progressives (AAMP). Founded in 2019, AAMP focuses on racial equity and community organization, and supports candidates who share a similar mission. Seong-Ah Cho, AAMP’s Field Director, said they were happy to see a queer Filipina woman in the race for alderperson.

“It’s exciting that she’s in the final running as someone who represents us,” Cho told The Phoenix. “It’s not just about identity, it’s what you do.”

Manaa-Hoppenworth and all other newly elected alderpersons will begin their term in the Chicago City Council May 15.

Featured image by Holden Green | The Phoenix

Maddie Franz

Maddie Franz