b. September 29, 1957
Chicago, 20th Ward Alderman (2007-)
Chicago, 20th Ward Democratic Committeeman (2008-2016)
After earning a Chicago police pension by putting in his twenty-five years of service, Willie Cochran became an organizer for Rev. Leon Finney's The Woodlawn Organization (TWO). Finney's TWO was originally founded by the leader of the Apostolic Church of God, the late Bishop Arthur Brazier, and the notable late-activist Saul Alinsky. Cochran stayed close to Brazier, a long-time southside political powerhouse who was also one of Mayor Richard M. Daley's most consistent supporters and has done much the same for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Cochran's future has been clouded since he was indicted by federal prosecutors in December 2016 for a scheme where he allegedly directed local developers to contribute to an off-the-books children's charity he operated, which he then allegedly used to pay gambling debts and his daughter's college tuition. Cochran has denied wrong doing, and continues to fight the charges in court.
Before Cochran's election in 2007, the 20th was represented by the personally and sartorially colorful Arenda Troutman. Troutman, who was elected to the council with the help of Finney and Brazier, lost their support during her last re-election bid; she opposed a TWO development project and was later indicted for taking bribes for zoning changes. With a felony indictment hanging over her head and TWO's opposition, Troutman lost to Cochran by a 2-to-1 margin in 2007.
Cochran was forced into runoffs in both 2011 and 2015. First, against local Grammy-award winning rapper Che "Rhymefest" Smith, and second, against community organizer Kevin Bailey. Cochran won both runoffs handily. Once referred to as an "independent" alderman, Cochran's reliance on Finney's organization, and Finney's 5th Floor connections have kept him from being an actual independent.
From his official city biography, "Willie retired from the Chicago Police Department in 2003, after 25 years of dedicated service as a patrolman, investigator and sergeant. Mr. Cochran served and protected residents of the 20th ward for more than 12 years. After retiring from the police department, Willie went on to demonstrate his commitment to his community by working as a community organizer for the Woodlawn New Communities Program....[H]e has operated a family-owned business for 12 years, Rainbow Brite Laundromat at 860 E. 63rd street."
In 2016, Cochran declined to run for reelection for 20th Ward Democratic Committeeman, allowing his former Aldermanic opponent, Kevin Bailey, to run unopposed.
In November 2017, Cochran collapsed on the floor of City Council and appeared to lose consciousness. Fellow Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40) performed CPR and Cochran was taken out on a stretcher. Weeks later, Cochran announced he would not run for reelection in 2019. Bailey has since announced he will run.
Employment and Electoral History
From his official city biography, "Willie retired from the Chicago Police Department in 2003, after 25years of dedicated service as a patrolman, investigator and sergeant. Mr. Cochran served and protected residents of the 20th ward for more than 12 years. After retiring from the police department, Willie went on to demonstrate his commitment to his community by working as a community organizer for the Woodlawn New Communities Program....[H]e has operated a family-owned business for 12 years, Rainbow Brite Laundromat at 860 E. 63rd street."
Current Chicago City Council Committees:
- Committee on Aviation
- Committee on Budget and Government Operations
- Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics
- Committee on Economic, Capital ad Technology Development
- Committee on Finance
- Committee on Health and Environmental Protection
- Committee on License and Consumer Protection
- Committee on Public Safety, Vice Chairman
- Eastern Illinois University, B.A.
- Illinois Institute of Technology, M.P.A.
Important Political Events
- 2007, Elected 20th Ward Alderman, defeating Arenda Troutman
- 2008, Elected 20th Ward Democratic Committeeman, unopposed
- 2011, Reelected 20th Ward Alderman, defeating Che "Rhymefest" Smith in runoff
- 2015, Reelected 20th Ward Alderman, defeating Kevin Bailey in runoff
- 2016, Retired 20th Ward Democratic Committeeman, replaced by Kevin Bailey
- 2016, Indicted for stealing from charity