20th Ward Election: Taylor Beats Johnson in Race to Replace Cochran

Taylor is a community activist who led a 34-day hunger strike to stop the closing of Dyett High School

Jeannette Taylor prevailed over one the largest field of aldermanic candidates in Chicago in the race to replace Ald. Willie Cochran in the city's 20th Ward.

Taylor defeated Nicole Johnson in the runoff election Tuesday, earning 60 percent of the vote over Johnson's 40 percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial election results showed.

The two were sent to a runoff from the initial nine candidates vying to replace Cochran, who was indicted on federal criminal charges in December 2016.

Taylor is a community activist who led a 34-day hunger strike to stop the closing of Dyett High School and has advocated for a community benefits agreement for the Obama Presidential Center, a proposal Johnson has also said she supports.

Johnson is an education consultant and has worked as a policy and program manager at Chicago Votes, as well as for Sen. Dick Durbin, among other elected officials.

Now, Taylor will succeed Cochran, who was charged with a total of 11 counts of wire fraud, two counts of federal program bribery and two counts of extortion. Authorities allege Cochran, a former Chicago police officer, solicited bribes from area businesses and used money from a charitable fund in part to pay for his daughter’s college tuition and roughly $25,000 on gambling at casinos.

Cochran originally entered a plea of not guilty in 2016, then rejected a plea deal in 2018, setting the stage for a trial before ultimately pleading guilty and resigning his seat on March 21.

He had previously announced in 2017 that he would not run again, though he said his decision had nothing to do with his indictment. Cochran is the third 20th Ward alderman to face charges, with two of his predecessors - Cliff Kelley and Arenda Troutman - imprisoned for fraud.

The ward includes parts of the Woodlawn, Back of the Yards, Canaryville, Washington Park and Englewood neighborhoods on the city’s South Side.

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