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Willie Wilson endorses 7 aldermanic candidates — including 4 against incumbents

In this file photo from Feb. 4, 2015, businessman Willie Wilson, candidate for the office of Mayor of Chicago, points as he speaks at a news conference after a televised debate at WTTW in Chicago. |AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Willie Wilson used his conservative, church-based constituency to win nearly all of the West and South Sides last week as he finished fourth in the run for mayor. Looking forward, Wilson is trying to sway his 50,000 supporters toward a primarily young group of newcomers for the City Council. | Nam Y. Huh/AP file photo

Former mayoral contender Willie Wilson on Tuesday endorsed seven aldermanic candidates — including four running against incumbents — ahead of the April runoff.

Wilson used his conservative, church-based constituency to win nearly all of the West and South Sides last week as he finished fourth in the run for mayor. Looking forward, Wilson is trying to sway his 50,000 supporters toward a primarily young group of newcomers for the City Council.

“We believe that they’re going to do the right things for us,” Wilson said in a tightly packed conference room at the Chicago Baptist Institute, 5120 S. King Drive, in Washington Park.

The first of the candidates receiving Wilson’s support was William Calloway, who narrowly forced incumbent Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) to a runoff. Though Calloway only drew 26.7 percent of the vote to Hairston’s 48.6 percent in the first round of voting, Wilson’s backing in a primarily black South Shore ward could help Calloway make up ground.

Calloway is best known as a community activist who was instrumental in the release of the police dashcam video that showed the fatal shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald.

“Will fought for Laquan McDonald — fought for his generation,” Wilson said.

Wilson also threw his support behind three other candidates running against incumbents: Rafael Yanez is challenging Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th); Stephanie Coleman is taking on Ald. Toni Foulkes (16th); and Felix Cardona Jr. is up against Ald. Milagros Santiago (31st).

Yanez and Cardona Jr. face uphill battles in their runoffs as they try to make up ground after 28- and 7-point losses, respectively, in last week’s election.

Coleman, meanwhile, gets a boost from Wilson a week after she beat Foulkes by nearly 13 percentage points.

Wilson also endorsed two incumbents — Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st) and Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) — and 20th Ward candidate Nicole Johnson, who was one of two candidates to prevail from a group of nine hopefuls looking to replace indicted Ald. Willie Cochran.

With his endorsements Wilson gave advice to the candidates who would be first-time aldermen.

“Just know that there’s a lot of things coming up temptation-wise in City Council,” Wilson said. “Never sell out your community, and most importantly never sell out yourself.”

Wilson did not offer endorsements in the other seven aldermanic elections heading to a runoff, but he said he would announce his endorsement for mayor Friday afternoon. He urged his 50,000 supporters to go to his Facebook page and vote on which candidate they want him to support.