Taylor brings fighting spirit to runoff election in aldermanic race for 20th Ward
Jeanette Taylor has lived to fight another day in her run for 20th Ward City Alderman, emerging as one of two candidates that knocked off Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s hand-picked choice to force an April 2 runoff election.
Taylor topped the field of seven candidates in the Feb. 26 primary with 29 percent of the vote and will face Nicole Johnson (22.1 percent) in the runoff. Kevin Bailey, who had the support of Pritzker, finished a distant third with 16.5 percent.
Both Taylor and Johnson are vying to replace Ald. Willie Cochran, who will not seek re-election while he faces federal charges ranging from wire fraud to bribery and extortion.
Standing up for what she believes in comes as nothing new for Taylor, who once staged a hunger strike as part of an effort to keep the doors of a neighborhood school open. More recently, she’s been going head to head with developers of the Obama Presidential Center, which is scheduled to take residence in her Woodlawn neighborhood by 2021.
As education director for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Taylor has been pushing for assurances in the form of a community benefits agreement to make sure longtime residents of the neighborhood aren’t locked out of its newfound revitalization. The contract she and other community activists are seeking would require the city to freeze property taxes around the center, guarantee new low-income housing in the area and a stipulation that four out of every five library construction jobs go to South Side residents.
Over the last two years, more than a dozen local groups, neighborhood organizations, labor unions and tenants’ rights activists have merged to form the Obama Library South Side Community Benefits Coalition that is also fighting on behalf of the community.
“The first time investment comes to black communities, the first to get kicked out is low-income and working-class people," Taylor recently told Politico Magazine. Why wouldn’t you sign a CBA to protect us.”