Danny Davis and CB Johnson | Igor Studenkov

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-7th) endorsed one of incumbent Ald. Chris Taliaferro’s opponents in the 29th ward race — CB Johnson, head of the Campaign for a Drug-Free West Side.

While, in recent years, Davis tended to endorse incumbents, he has sometimes endorsed challengers. Taliaferro himself benefitted from it when he ran against then-incumbent Ald. Deborah Graham. During a Feb. 26 town hall event held at the Austin Town Hall auditorium, 5610 W. Lake St., Davis said he believed that Taliaferro hadn’t done enough for his constituents, and that Johnson would do a better job. Johnson said that, while he appreciates any endorsements he can get, an endorsement from a long-time elected official who lives in the community meant a lot.

Chicago municipal elections take place on Feb. 28. If none of the candidates get more than 50% of the vote, the two top vote-getters face off on April 4.

In 2015, Taliaferro was one of eight candidates to challenge Graham. He came in second to Graham in the February primary election, facing off against the incumbent in an April run-off election. Taliaferro prevailed by a slim margin, earning 51.7% of the vote.

Davis endorsed him again when he ran for re-election in 2019. Taliaferro faced off against community activists Zerlina Smith and Dwayne Truss, but he managed to get 58.1% of the vote in that election – enough to avoid a run-off.

Last year, Taliaferro ran for Cook County Circuit Court judge in the11th subcircuit, losing to attorney Aileen Bhandari.  He decided to run for alderman again. This time he’s facing off against two opponents – Johnson and Corey Dooley, a Resource Coordinator for Urban Initiatives at Faraday Elementary school, 3250 W. Monroe St. 29th Ward Republican Committeeperson Walter Adamczyk and resident Lisa Brown Newman are running as write-in candidates.

Johnson said he supported Taliaferro in 2015. He decided to run because he kept getting complaints from residents about poor responsiveness from the 29th Ward office – and that when he brought it up with the incumbent, Taliaferro never followed up.

“When you take on a job to represent a people in the community, you have to honor that, you have to do things you said you were going to do,” Johnson said.

Davis said he takes a special interest in elected officials in the community where he lives, and that he would want that person to be someone who already does good in the community and who will listen to the residents. While he didn’t outright mention Taliaferro, he mused that Johnson fits those criteria.

“Our community is in need of leadership,” Davis said. “You can’t lead where you don’t go, you can’t [address] what you don’t know.”

Taliaferro’s campaign page touts a number of endorsements from labor unions and politicians – including from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, State Rep. Camille Lilly (78th), Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin and activist Kina Collins, who ran against Davis in the 2022 Democratic primary and earned 45.4% of the vote to Davis’ 52.2%.

Johnson said that, while he would appreciate any endorsement he gets, he feels that the best endorsements come from the people who live in the community.

“[Davis] is someone who lives in the ward, someone who knows my history of service in the ward, knows that I care and I love the community,” he said. “[His endorsement] tells me that all the years I spent on the front line working – he’s been paying attention.”

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...