Photo caption: MAYORAL HOPEFUL BRANDON JOHNSON on Monday, March 20, thanked individuals and organizations endorsing him for mayor, vowing that come April 4 there will be a teacher on the fifth floor of City Hall. (Photo by Parthenia Luke)
More than 300 ministers enthusiastically endorsed Brandon Johnson for mayor during a press conference on Tuesday, March 21, at the Greater Harvest Baptist Church, 5141 S. State St., where they laid out their case why “Brandon is better” than contender Paul Vallas who they say is wrong for Chicago.
The multi-denominational coalition of ministers said they were making the endorsement of Johnson in the spirit of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who they called “a prophet of social justice, an advocate of the beloved community and a peacemaking servant.” They said Johnson “will end the tale of two cities.”
In accepting the mass endorsement Johnson, the son and grandson of Church of God in Christ ministers, said, “I recognize that this moment is far bigger than an individual dream. This journey for justice started some time ago.”
Johnson said as the son and grandson of ministers he was told, “We come this far by faith, but I also know that you got to put in some work. We can’t be afraid to put in some work because the city of Chicago needs workers especially while it’s daytime because in the day time, you can actually see the tale of two cities.”
If elected, Johnson said he will “finally disrupt this tale of two cities and usher in a better, stronger, safer united Chicago.”
Reverend Marshall Hatch, pastor of the New Mount Pilgrim MBC, stunned the audience when he revealed he fired Vallas back in 2018 when Vallas was Chief Administrative Officer at Chicago State University. Vallas was appointed by the Board, which Hatch chaired at the behest of then-Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.
The Chicago Crusader asked why he fired Vallas in 2018. Hatch said, “Vallas wanted my job. Governor Rauner said he preferred Vallas to be the Chairman of the Board during his press conference because he thought Paul could save the school, but I was the Chairman of the Board,” Hatch said.
“Then Vallas wanted to be president of Chicago State University without the prerequisites…. I had more degrees than he did,” said Hatch.
Vallas has a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University in political science and history and a master’s degree in political science.
Hatch has a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University in political science and history, a master’s degree in government from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in theological studies from the McCormick Theological Seminary, and a doctorate of ministry from the McCormick Theological Seminary.
Hatch also teaches on the faculty of McCormick, and he teaches on the faculty of Northern Baptist Seminary and is on the board of the Baptist Theological Union that holds the endowment for the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Hatch said Vallas does not have a background in education. “He’s a financial fixer the way he fancies himself, although the evidence suggests he’s not very good at that either,” Hatch said, emphasizing Brandon “is better for Chicago.”
Hatch said the Board got rid of Vallas after learning he planned to run for mayor in 2019.
Vallas also unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2002 and for Lieutenant Governor in 2014. Hatch said Vallas worked at Chicago State University for eight months and allegedly did “nothing to save the school during the “legislative, fiscal standoff” in Springfield.
Reverend Ira Acree, pastor of the Greater St. John Bible Church, said Johnson is a young man who is “truly a breath of fresh air. He has the heart as well as the intangibles needed to lead a diverse city like ours into being the world class place she was destined to become.”
Referring to the coalition of faith leaders, Acree said, “We are excited and unapologetic about supporting his historic candidacy. He’s an educated and well-spoken Black man. He has deep roots in the faith community. He’s the son and grandson of pastors and a family man who has overcome incredible odds.”
Of all of the nine mayoral candidates, Acree said Johnson “is the only candidate from day one who clearly and consistently verbalized his commitment to end Chicago’s ugly tale of two cities.” He said Johnson has promised to end decades of economic disinvestment on the South and West sides, Acree says, “that has destroyed far too many families.”
In comparing Johnson to Vallas, Acree said both have “two powerful unions. Well, I’ll take my chances with collaborating with the teachers before handing the reigns over to FOP and its MAGA leader. We know who Brandon is, but Paul Vallas keeps reinventing himself when opportunities come.
“This is a blue state. Why should we elect a Republican to head our city?” asked Acree. “Paul Vallas is dangerous. We don’t need a MAGA man in City Hall. He’s a DINO…a Democrat in Name Only.”
Johnson is looking to transform the city, vowing to provide services to all sides of Chicago. He said he has been all over the city of Chicago and that “the infrastructure of this broken system is shaking. We cannot allow politics and the failures of old to try to repair the damage that they created. We don’t live in fear, or doubt or trepidation.
“We can live out our hopes. It is time to turn our hopes into votes and turn our votes into policy to make sure the policy reaches the community,” said Johnson.
He promised to invest in the people of Chicago and to provide access to all amenities including jobs, reliable transportation, fully-funded neighborhood schools and an environmentally safe Chicago.
On the April 4 runoff election that falls on the assassination date of Dr. King, Johnson said, “April 4 is not just about an assassination. It’s about the resurrection of the city of Chicago.”
He urged everybody to vote and said the fifth floor of City Hall “is big enough for everybody.”
CLICK HERE TO READ FAITH LEADERS LETTER OF SUPPORT FOR BRANDON JOHNSON