Write-in ballots could threaten 29th Ward Ald. Chris Taliaferro’s bid for reelection

Chris Taliaferro has held a slim majority of votes since Election Day Feb. 28. but ballots released Sunday could push him into a runoff against CB Johnson.

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Ald. Chris Taliaferro at a Chicago City Council meeting.

Sun-Times file

Complete coverage of the local and national primary and general election, including results, analysis and voter resources to keep Chicago voters informed.

In a bizarre development in Chicago’s political sphere, write-in votes could be the defining factor in the 29th Ward aldermanic election.

Incumbent Ald. Chris Taliaferro, who lost a bid for Cook County judge before seeking reelection, could be heading for a runoff after write-in votes trimmed his margin just below 50% when a majority is needed to win outright, according to the Chicago Board of Elections.

The votes released Sunday showed Taliaferro’s total number of votes at 4,868, but added six write-in votes for Walter Adamczyk and 106 for Lisa Ann Brown Newman. Taliaferro holds 49.76% of the vote and could be headed for a runoff with second-place finisher CB Johnson unless mail-in ballots counted in the next few days shift the results yet again.

The West Side ward is made up of a majority of Black residents and includes neighborhoods such as Austin, Montclare and Galewood. Taliaferro also serves as the city’s chairman of the public safety committee. Candidates in the 29th Ward, like those in much of the rest of the city, are concerned about crime and public safety, but they highlighted the area’s growth and potential.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, who supports Johnson, lives in the 29th Ward and previously served as alderman in the area. Davis held a news conference Sunday calling for the ballots to be released. A representative for Davis said the Board of Elections contacted Davis’ team and confirmed a runoff is possible if the margin doesn’t change.

“He’s excited ... he’s happy that there’s a possibility that the voters can elect an alderman who represents them,” Tumia Romero, Davis’ spokesperson, told the Sun-Times on Sunday night.

Johnson has long been involved in substance abuse prevention through the nonprofit organization Campaign for a Drug-Free West Side.

If the 29th Ward aldermanic candidates head to a runoff, and 1st Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata holds a thin lead, the total number of elections going to a runoff will be 14.

Taliaferro, 57, and Johnson, 62, didn’t immediately return calls for comment.

The runoff election is scheduled for April 4, with early voting starting March 20.

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