Indicted Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) said Monday he will not seek re-election, but it has nothing to do with the federal corruption charges against him or the health scare earlier this month that caused him to collapse during City Council budget hearings.
“That was my plan anyway. Three terms and out. I believe in term limits,” said Cochran, 65.
As for the Nov. 2 health scare that prompted him to slump in his chair in the City Council chambers, Cochran said he’s feeling fine and back to work for four hours a day.
“Blood pressure dropped. It was my fault because they changed my medication. I had a problem with the medication — the way I was taking it,” Cochran said, chomping on a banana during a break in Monday’s Finance Committee meeting.
“We’ve gotten it straightened out. Everything seems to be OK. But they’re still running tests on me.”
Cochran was emphatic when asked whether the collapse had anything to do with the pressure he is under because of his December 2016 indictment.
“No,” he said. “We changed blood pressure medication. As a result of that, I made some errors in the way that I was taking it.”
Cochran collapsed during a heavily attended hearing on the Chicago Police Department’s budget.
The incident sent shock waves through the City Council chambers, prompting colleagues to rush to Cochran’s side and administer CPR, helping him to regain consciousness and, possibly, saving his life.On Monday, Cochran was asked how it felt being the center of attention for medical reasons.
“I was a bit embarrassed. As one elder told me, I would get over that as I get older because these things may happen more and more often in your life when you start aging,” he said.
“I have a great team of colleagues here who were concerned about my health as I would be in responding to anybody else who is in here.”
“From what I see in the filming that was taking place, I was out for about 10, 15, 20 seconds,” he said. “First time I’ve fainted. Not to mean that I have not felt like fainting before in my life or from big hits that I may have taken once or twice in my life. But I’m doing pretty good now.”
Pressed on what he learned from the health scare, Cochran said, “It made me much more aware of my health. Even though I work out from time to time, it’s important for me to even do better than what I’ve done before and how valuable life is. My dad lived to be 90. I want to try and reach that goal. That means 25 more years.”
A 22-page indictment accuses Cochran of looting a 20th Ward fund meant to help children and senior citizens, using $5,000 to pay his daughter’s college tuition and withdrawing $25,000 from ATMs near his preferred casinos. The former Chicago Police officer is also accused of accepting bribes from businessmen who needed favors.
The health scare provided Cochran with a different kind of attention than the kind he got when he showed up at a City Council meeting the day he was indicted.
On that day, colleagues approached Cochran on the City Council floor and whispered to him. One showed Cochran a story about the political corruption indictment on an iPad.
That prompted Cochran to flee the council chambers out the front door as a pack of reporters and television cameras chased him down the hall.