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CPD union election heading to runoff

Incumbent union President Kevin Graham and John Catanzara will now face each other in a runoff election, the results of which are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Incumbent FOP President Kevin Graham (left) will face off against challenger John Catanzara (right) in a runoff election to decide who leads the union that represents rank-and-file CPD officers.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia, Nader Issa | Sun-Times

The field of candidates to lead the union that represents Chicago Police officers has been whittled down to two.

Incumbent union President Kevin Graham and John Catanzara will now face each other in a runoff election, the results of which are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. More than 8,000 current CPD officers are represented by the union, along with thousands of retirees.

Of the five candidates for president, Catanzara finished first, garnering 32% of the 8,316 votes that were cast. Graham finished second, with 25%, narrowly edging out Martin Preib, the union’s current second vice president.

Results of the runoff are expected to be announced in early April.

Graham said he was feeling upbeat about the results and planned to ratchet up his campaigning efforts in the coming weeks.

“I’m feeling very good going forward,” Graham said. “I did not have a lot of time to devote to the election because I was doing the job.”

The union has been without a contract for more than 2 ½ years. In December, the FOP board voted to put their demand for an 18% pay raise over three years in the hands of an independent arbitrator.

Earlier this week, Catanzara pledged to take an aggressive approach in negotiations with City Hall should he be elected.

“If you want to talk, we’re willing to listen and sit down and talk. If you want to fight, we’re gonna bring a fight like no FOP has ever brought to any mayor in this city — ever,” Catanzara said Monday.

“The membership is dying for a voice. They’re tired of nobody standing up for the police. Rahm [Emanuel] ignored us for almost two years. And Kevin [Graham] let him get away with it. What did the teachers do when they didn’t get their answers?”

Catanzara could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday evening.

Graham was elected president in 2017 after defeating Dean Angelo Sr. in a runoff.

Graham’s time in FOP leadership has been hallmarked by his criticism of the CPD’s reform efforts and consent decree, which were spurred by the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video and subsequent investigation of the CPD by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Catanzara, meanwhile, is currently stripped of his police powers and assigned to administrative duty for filing a police report against now-fired Police Supt. Eddie Johnson after Johnson marched arm-in-arm with Rev. Michael Pfleger on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Three years ago, Catanzara was reprimanded for posting a picture of himself on social media dressed in his police uniform holding an American flag and a homemade sign that read, “I stand for the anthem. I love the American flag. I support my President and the Second Amendment.”

Catanzara was also recommended for firing in 2012, after Independent Police Review Authority investigators determined he had been working security at an Old Town restaurant while he was on medical leave from CPD with a back injury.

The board found him guilty but instead opted to suspend him for 20 days.