The Race for 20th Ward Alderman

February 22, 2011 4:36:35 AM PST
A Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist is on the ballot for Chicago alderman in the 20th Ward.

Che "Rhymefest" Smith is one of four candidates running against incumbent Alderman Willie Cochran.

The 20th Ward is on Chicago's South Side and includes portions the city's Woodlawn, Washington Park and Englewood communities.

Residents of this predominantly African American ward would like to see more employers, services and less crime. Candidates for alderman are using a variety of techniques to get their votes.

Sid Shelton got the message out from his roving office Monday. The 61-year-old says he ran for alderman in 1975 and it was time to run again.

"Every time I see that the alderman isn't doing his job I'll run," said Shelton.

ABC7 found the incumbent alderman using a more traditional campaign technique -- recording a message for voters who will be called by an automated system. Alderman Cochran is a retired police sergeant with a master's in public administration who says he's brought 35 new businesses to the ward and more are on the way.

"We want to put somebody on the field that can play the ball and run it the way it should be run," said Cochran.

Three other candidates for alderman are newcomers to politics.

Andre Smith is a minister who has mentored young people and hosted job fairs. He says he gave out 10,000 DVDs introducing himself to voters.

"There is a great need in the 20th Ward for change, for real change," said Smith.

Thirty-three-old Washington Park resident Che "Rhymfest" Smith is using music and video to get the word out with help campaigning from George Clinton and Doctor Cornell West. He says he wants use his celebrity to bring up the 20th Ward.

"Everything I every got I owe to where I come from. It's time that I give back more than a song and a dance," said Smith.

Rounding out the candidates for the 20th Ward is George Davis. No video, no music, no bull horn in his modest office. The Woodlawn resident, with a law degree and an MBA, was endorsed by the SunTimes and the Chicago Tribune.

Davis says the ward needs someone to address complex issues to improve the lives of residents.

"Essentially the banks pay me to solve very complicated problems, and I think we need someone within our community that can solve very complicated problems as well," said Davis.


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