By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
After endorsing several candidates including Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Chris Kennedy, Dr. Willie Wilson Tuesday announced he has formed a mayoral exploratory committee to end the “tale of two cities” in Chicago.
The chairman of that committee, Pastor Ira Acree, said Mayor Rahm Emanuel “should not get a free pass” in the upcoming election. Dr. Wilson threw his political weight behind several candidates, promising to campaign with them as a strong show of support.
In backing Kennedy for governor, Dr. Wilson said while he didn’t know Chris Kennedy as well as he did the late John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy, African Americans would not have advanced as they have today and the civil rights struggle would not have made such great strides without the helping hands of the Kennedys.
Wilson, who just returned from Houston, Texas where he gave away $170,000 to victims of Hurricane Harvey, made his remarks during a meeting held at the Chicago Baptist Institute International, 5120 S. King Drive. There were close to 200 ministers, and along with Kennedy, former Illinois Senator Emil Jones, III (D-14th); and former Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) whom he also endorsed.
Fioretti is circulating petitions to run for Cook County Board president. Dr. Wilson said, “I endorsed him and will campaign for him if he does really run.” Wilson had backed Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, who later dropped plans to challenge Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Fioretti later told this reporter, “I am still exploring options and have not formally declared. However, Willie Wilson is a man of integrity and commitment to our communities, and I would be proud to have his support.”
Wilson named Pastor Ira Acree, who heads the Greater St. John Bible Church, chairman of his exploratory committee. “He asked me about running and I said if the people want me to run they have to raise $1 million or $2 million dollars, register people and give me scientific data to support my decision to run. Then I wouldn’t have a problem running for mayor,” said Wilson.
Later Pastor Acree told this reporter, “We plan to commission one of the pollsters regarding the upcoming mayoral election. We have not hired anyone just yet, but we are going to do it.”
“Dr. Wilson is convinced that Rahm Emanuel has failed Chicago and that he has created ‘a tale of two cities.’ Dr. Wilson figures, as many do, that Emanuel does not deserve a free pass in the next mayoral election,” said Acree.
Explaining, Acree said, “Many people are asking Dr. Wilson to run again. He has done a lot of good work and is known outside of the church community for his good works.” In the last election, Wilson received more than 50,000 votes.
He had never run for public office. Last year, Dr. Wilson ran for president using his own money, but he said he wouldn’t do that again. Rather, the support has to come from voters. Acree hopes that the poll will verify the political viability of Dr. Wilson’s run for mayor and that it legitimizes his candidacy as a serious one.
“It is great that we are blessed to have a person like Dr. Wilson who is willing to present himself as a living sacrifice for the community. He believes that all of God’s children are important and that they matter,” Acree said.
He is hoping that the poll will give credibility to Wilson’s run for mayor. The poll, Acree added, “will also give Dr. Wilson the ability to run and to raise money for his campaign. Once we verify he is a serious candidate, we will make it clear that people should invest in his candidacy.
“If money is going out and nothing is coming in that is not a good paradigm,” Acree said, referring to some who donate to campaigns but get nothing in return. Acree said he hopes a serious Wilson mayoral run will send a signal to African American businessmen to back his candidacy.
“When Harold Washington was mayor, African Americans got their fair share of the contracts, a greater share than ever before in the history of Chicago. That is the way it will be with a Dr. Wilson administration,” he said.
Once the poll is taken, Wilson said he would hold up to 75 town hall meetings across the city and listen to the concerns of the people. “I will be more than happy to run for mayor,” said Wilson. “I am tired of the police brutality, tired of the high property taxes, tired of people not being able to have jobs, tired of the many blighted areas.
“I feel that this mayor covered up the Laquan McDonald’s murder. I am tired of those types of behavior, and I’m tired of the schools he closed down…buildings that are still empty. Yet he got money to build low-income housing, which he has not done. The money is just sitting there,” he said.
“A lot of people are moving out of Chicago because they cannot afford the taxes. We want to invest into the future, invest in our kids and our seniors…. This mayor has not done a good job,” said Wilson.
And to ensure African Americans get a brand new choice of candidates, Wilson said his group would be slating young candidates. “We have to get young blood to take over their own future. We also have to select people who represent us. Hopefully, they will be true to their word. I will campaign on their behalf for those I have endorsed.”
Agreeing, Rev. Paul Jakes said, “I am excited for the African American community. I think there is a need for young Black men and women to know that one can come from a very hard situation like Dr. Wilson, who started off as a share cropper, and who has excelled to the height of,” once again running for mayor.