20th Ward Election: Taylor, Johnson in Runoff to Replace Cochran


Jeanette Taylor and Nicole Johnson prevailed over seven other candidates to head to a runoff election in the race to replace Ald. Willie Cochran, who was indicted on federal criminal charges in December 2016.

Taylor earned 29 percent of the vote and Johnson garner 22.1 percent with 97 percent of precincts reporting as of 12:40 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Chicago Board of Elections. Those totals were enough to advance them to the next round in April, with the next-closest candidate in the field of nine, Kevin Bailey, coming in at 16.5 percent.

Taylor led a hunger strike to protest the closing of Dyett High School and is a strong proponent of a Community Benefits Agreement for the Obama Presidential Center.

Johnson is an education consultant and has worked, among other roles, as a policy and program manager at Chicago Votes.

The other candidates included: Maya Hodari, Jennifer O. Maddox, Andre Smith, Dernard D. Newell, Quandra V. Speights and Anthony Driver, Jr.

Hodari is the former director of development at the Chicago Housing Authority and a founding member of the Woodlawn Neighbors Association. [[505902811, C]]

Maddox is a Chicago police officer, currently working in the department’s Office of Community Affairs, and the founder of a non-profit organization focused on after-school and summer programs for children.

Smith is the founder and CEO of Chicago Against Violence and previously ran for alderman in 2010.

Newell has worked as an assistant state’s attorney for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, as well as an investigator for the Independent Police Review Authority and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

Speights is an attorney and NAACP member, as well as a member of the board of directors of SheVotes Illinois.

Bailey is a civil engineer by degree, works at IBM and is the 20th Ward Democratic committeeman who ran against Cochran in 2015, forcing him to a run-off in which Bailey earned 45 percent of the vote.

Driver has a background in policy, has previously worked for the Chicago Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement and is an advocate against gun violence after losing two friends in shootings. [[504651202, C]]

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

He was also accused of soliciting a bribe from a liquor store owner in exchange for the passage of an ordinance allowing liquor sales in the store’s two-block area, plus the solicitation of a bribe from an attorney representing real estate developers with properties in the ward.

Cochran originally entered a plea of not guilty in 2016, then rejected a plea deal in 2018, setting the stage for a trial this summer. He 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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