Incumbent Ald. Deborah Graham (29th), who was heavily supported by the pro-Rahm Emanuel Chicago Forward super PAC and the mayor himself, lost a down-to-the-wire race to hold on to her seat Tuesday night, conceding to a Chicago cop who had never run for public office.
Graham’s loss was a stinging blow to the mayor and the super PAC, which together invested nearly $120,000 in Graham’s campaign.
Graham’s opponent, Chicago Police sergeant and lawyer Chris Taliaferro, led Graham 52 percent to 48 percent with 95 percent of precincts reporting in the 29th Ward, which includes Austin, Galewood and parts of Montclare, Belmont Heights and West Garfield Park.
Taliaferro — who had the backing of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and ex-con and former 29th Ward Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers — spent nearly $17,000 of his own money on his campaign.
After accepting Graham’s concession, he took to the dance floor at Valentino Club Cafe, 7150 W. Grand Ave., to speak with reporters.
“I’m just so excited. I’m overwhelmed,” he said. “I just want to revitalize the community. We need our ward to be proud of the 29th Ward. The majority of the ward saw that in the last four years there’s been no development — economic or community.”
After watching his chosen mayoral candidate, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, lose, Taliaferro said he could work with Emanuel.
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The pro-Emanuel super PAC spent $108,429 in support of Graham’s campaign before the Feb. 24 election and in the subsequent runoff. It was the most money that the super PAC had invested in a single candidate. Emanuel’s campaign fund also supported Graham, giving her campaign $10,000.
Carothers said he was “pleased to be part of a coalition” that got Taliaferro elected.
Meanwhile, 37th Ward Ald. Emma Mitts — another incumbent supported by the pro-Emanuel super PAC — hung on to her post representing West Garfield Park, West Humboldt Park and Austin despite some kerfuffles during the runoff. With all precincts reporting, Mitts led Chicago Public Schools teacher Tara Stamps, 53 percent to 47 percent.
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) waves to supporters at her campaign office after she was re-elected Tuesday night. | Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media
Stamps, the daughter of late activist Marion Stamps, was supported by the Chicago Teachers Union. She said late Tuesday that although the race for alderman was over, her mission isn’t.
“This was not about a moment; this was a movement,” Stamps said.
Mitts, who created controversy by making statements perceived as anti-union and anti-gay, said late Tuesday that “voters showed me some love” after she “may have taken things for granted.”
“We can celebrate tonight but our real work starts tomorrow,” Mitts said.
The 24th Ward’s new alderman will have a familiar name.
Michael Scott Jr., namesake son of late political power broker and Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott, won the aldermanic seat for Lawndale, Douglas Park and Homan Square. He led businesswoman Vetress Boyce 67 percent to 32 percent with all precincts reporting.
Of his father, who authorities said committed suicide in 2009, Scott said, “I think he would have had mixed emotions because he’d been around the political realm for quote some time. He’d be very happy of my achievement but he’d be leery. . . . He always wanted the best for me and I think this role as alderman is best for myself and my family.”