Incumbent Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) could potentially be heading for a runoff against CB Johnson, head of the Campaign for a Drug-Free West Side.

The ballots cast on Election Day Feb. 28 had Taliaferro with enough votes to avoid the run-off, which is triggered if none of the candidates earn more than half of the votes. He ended that day with 50.51% of the vote, with Johnson getting 40.45% of the vote.

But that still left over 130,000 mail-in ballots from across the city that were still being counted as of March 3. Furthermore, the board hasn’t received 976 ballots from the 29th ward as of the evening of March 2. The board expects to count all the ballots received by Feb. 28 by March 6. The margins are close enough that the extra votes for Johnson could tilt the percentage into the runoff territory.

Chris Taliaferro

One thing is certain – it is the end of the road for the third candidate on the ballot. Corey Dooley-Johnson, a Resource Coordinator for Urban Initiatives at Faraday Elementary school, 3250 W. Monroe St, won just 8.95% of the vote. In a statement to the media, he said that he was happy to get as much support as he did as a first-time, 25-year-old candidate, and he plans to continue being involved in the community.

Looking at precinct-level data, the overall pattern was, the further south one went, the less popular Taliaferro got. He did well in the Dunning and Montclare portions of the ward, and he had a smaller, but still notable lead in Galewood, where he lives and which has a large number of city employees.

In other parts of the ward north of North Avenue, it was more of a mixed bag, with either Taliaferro or Johnson leading by close margins and neither candidate earning 50%.  In the Island, the more demographically diverse southwest corner of Austin, the two candidates were neck-and-neck, with Johnson leading by only 21 votes.  Johnson led in the rest of Austin, especially the southernmost precincts.

Dooley-Johnson followed a similar pattern as Taliaferro – earning double-digits in Dunning, Montclare and parts of Galewood, but with percentages slipping further east and south.

In a statement released on March 1, Dooley-Johnson congratulated Taliaferro.

“While last night’s results weren’t what we had hoped to achieve, as a first-time candidate at the age of 25 — what a ride this has been,” he said. “This experience has taught me so much about what it takes to run a competitive campaign.  Being out in the community every day, I see that this campaign has made a lasting impact on the community and this movement to bring change and hope back to the 29th Ward and beyond is just getting started.”

Incumbents prevail in 28th, 37th Ward races

Emma Mitts

This year, long-time 37th Ward incumbent Ald. Emma Mitts faced three challengers – business consultant Corey Braddock, police officer Howard Ray and kindergarten teacher Jake Towers. As of March 2, Mitts had a lead that is highly unlikely to be affected by the mail-in ballots, earning 62.8% of the vote. Ray, the only candidate in the race with the FOP endorsement, came in second, earning 27.01%. Towers came in third, earning 5.7% of the vote, and Braddock came a close fourth, earning 4.44% of the vote.

28th ward Ald. Jason Ervin, who currently chairs the city council’s Black Caucus, originally had three challengers – nurse Beverly Miles, who most recently challenged incumbent Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the 2022 Democratic primary, construction consultant Shawn Walker and U.S. Army veteran Timothy Gladney. Residents Emma J. Robinson and Charles Enter filed the objections against Ervin’s challengers. Gladney withdrew his candidacy because he believed that defending his place on the ballot wasn’t worth his time and money, eventually deciding to run as a write-in candidate instead. Miles and Walker persevered, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners ended up ruling against them, but Walker appealed. The Illinois Appellate Court sided with him, and he was placed on the ballot on Feb. 23. While it was too late to put Walker’s name on mail-in ballots, his name was added to the voting machines.

Ervin ended up beating Walker by an overwhelming margin, with preliminary results indicating he got 75% of the vote to Walker’s 24.5%. 

“I’m humbled the voters of the 28th Ward have placed their trust in me for another term in such an overwhelming fashion,” Ervin said in a statement from his spokesperson. “I will work hard on their behalf every day to make our community safer and stronger.”

Walker said he was pleased that he got as many votes as he did, given that he had less than a week to campaign.

“I was, of course, disappointed by the outcome, but I was pleased with giving the 28th ward residents an opportunity to at least have someone to choose,” he said, adding that he would consider running again in 2027.

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...