By La Risa Lynch
As Chris Taliaferro took the stage to thank supporters in his bid to bring fair and responsive leadership to the 29th Ward, he got the call from his challenger Ald. Deborah Graham.
Graham called to concede the race just after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night. Taliaferro thanked the alderman and then said: “You are leaving the ward in great hands. I promise you that.”
Cheers rang up among the multitude of supporters who surrounded the alderman-elect at a neighborhood bar in the Galewood community.
The cheers were indicative of a hard fought and often heated runoff election that ended with the Chicago police sergeant garnering 52.12 percent of the registered votes to Graham’s 47.88 percent, with 95 percent of the precincts reporting.
“We have fought very hard amidst criticism. We fought very hard against lies, but we prevailed. This ward is in great hands because we will move this ward forward,” Taliaferro told his supporters.
Even as the polls closed late Tuesday, Taliaferro was optimistic about his chances.
“I expect to win,” he said.
The win was significant for Taliaferro. He said it was hard to finance a campaign against an entrenched alderman who had millions in a campaign war chest stocked by a super pac linked with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“It was very evident tonight when you are fighting $1.1 million dollars, money does not matter. When crime is skyrocketing in our community, our businesses are closing, our schools are closing, money does not matter,” Taliaferro said.
Taliaferro thanked a litany of supporters, donors, campaign staffers and volunteers whom he called “dedicated and committed” in helping to get his message out. His supporters included Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th), Water Reclamation Commissioner Barbara McGowan, former 29th Ward Ald. Ike Carothers, Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church and former 36th Ward Ald. Nick Sposato. The Galewood community was remapped out of Sposato’s ward and placed in the 29th Ward.
Taliaferro noted that Sposato encouraged him to run.
“He embedded in my heart that I could make a difference,” Taliaferro said. “Nick got on board with us, and he got on board wholeheartedly. He started sending out mailers. He started helping us out financially. But more importantly, helped us out with his voice.”
Many of Taliaferro’s supporters believe Graham’s leadership was her downfall, especially within the Galewood community.
“I supported Chris Taliaferro because I wanted to be represented,” Davis said. “I want to feel like I am represented, and I live in the 29th ward. I feel that Chris Taliaferro would do a better job of representing the way I think, the way I believe and will provide a different level of leadership for the community that needs it. So I supported him.”
Galewood residents Ernest and Sharon Jones supported Taliaferro because they wanted someone who cared about their community and who wanted viable businesses to come and stay in Galewood.
“And I am not talking about pawn shops and liquor stores,” Sharon Jones said.
“Bottom line, we have a nice community and we want to see the community remain nice. We want viable businesses to continue to come to Galewood,” her husband Ernest Jones added.
Ernest Jones, who along with his wife has lived in Galewood for 20 years, referred to Graham as a rubber stamp alderman for the mayor. According to a University of Illinois at Chicago analysis of aldermen voting records, Graham voted with the mayor 100 percent of the time