James Cappleman

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James Cappleman
Member of the Chicago City Council from the 46th ward
Assumed office
May 16, 2011
Preceded by Helen Shiller
Personal details
Born (1952-10-26) October 26, 1952 (age 62)
Temple, Texas
Political party Democratic
Domestic partner Richard Thale
Residence Chicago, Illinois
Alma mater University of Houston
University of Illinois at Chicago
Website james46.org

James Cappleman (born October 26, 1952[1]) is an American licensed clinical social worker and politician. On April 5, 2011, Cappleman was elected to the Chicago City Council, representing the 46th Ward. He took office on May 16, 2011.

Early life and career[edit]

A native of Houston, Texas and the son of a United States Army physician and nurse, Cappleman and his twin brother are the fifth and sixth of eight children. After graduating from the University of Houston, he began his career as a teacher, with most of his students being undocumented immigrants from Mexico.[2] He moved to Chicago in 1986 and has lived in the 46th Ward since 1999. He graduated from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Masters in Social Work in 1991.[3] He served two terms as Board President of the Uptown Chicago Commission, leaving the organization in 2010 to run for public office. He currently serves on the board of directors of Annie's Legacy, a not-for-profit organization that provides mentoring to women who have had a history of domestic violence.[4]

Political career[edit]

He previously ran for alderman of the 46th ward in 2007 against six-term incumbent Helen Shiller and was narrowly defeated, polling 47% in the runoff to her 53%. He ran again for the seat in 2011 when Shiller announced that she would not seek a seventh term. In the primary election, Cappleman faced off against ten other candidates, finishing first but failing to win an absolute majority. He therefore faced a runoff against second-place finisher Molly Phelan. In the runoff, held on April 5, Cappleman received 55% of the vote to Phelan's 45%.[5]


Cappleman is openly gay.[6] His partner, Richard Thale, is chair of the 19th Police District's Court Advocacy Committee and a CAPS facilitator for Beat 1914. After being a couple for over 20 years, the two entered into a civil union on September 8, 2012 and married the following year in Washington State.[7] Cappleman is one of three openly gay Chicago aldermen, alongside Tom Tunney and Deb Mell.[8] However, Cappleman was the first gay individual to be elected initially, as Tunney was appointed a month before being elected in 2003.[9]


External links[edit]