An old political rival of indicted 29th Ward Ald. Isaac Carothers is eying the alderman’s job.

Rev. Marshall Hatch, pastor of New Mt. Pilgrim Church on the West Side, ran against Carothers in 2003 and is once again expressing interest in his job. On Tuesday, Carothers pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges, including bribery, but his attorneys said they won’t rule out changing the plea later.

Carothers was indicted May 28 on bribery and fraud charges.

If Carothers does plead guilty later on, he’ll have to resign from the Chicago City Council. Mayor Richard M. Daley, a close political alley of Carothers, would then select a replacement. Hatch, a member of the LEADER’s Network comprised of West Side pastors, said he’s offering himself for the appointment if that should occur.

Hatch said he’s always been an independent voice in serving the community and would do the same as alderman. Carothers won reelection with 75 percent of the vote in 2003 against Hatch, who filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections after the race, accusing Carothers’ campaign of abusing the absentee ballot process, among other charges.

Carothers faced similar complaints about ballot abuses from an opponent in his first campaign for 29th Ward alderman in 1999.

“It was a spirited race, but I don’t know if it was a clean race,” said Hatch about the 2003 campaign.

The West Side pastor also criticized Carothers for supporting a patronage system in city government – the practice of giving away city jobs to political supporters – insisting that it’s time to do away with that practice.  

Despite their disputes, Hatch said he spoke to Carothers this week to offer him and his family prayer. Hatch wouldn’t comment on the charges against his one-time political rival, which include accepting money for repairs to his Austin home in exchange for supporting zoning changes for a developer. Hatch noted that he lives a block away from Carothers, who resides on Race Avenue.

And though he acknowledged reaching out to Carothers, he insisted that the business of the people needs to move forward.

“There is no rejoicing in anyone’s downfall, but it is clear that his influence has been tarnished significantly,” said the West Side pastor.

Hatch added that he is also exploring a run for the Cook County board, namely, the seat held by Commissioner Earlene Collins. According to Hatch, members of the community approached him last year about running for the board, but he insisted that his focus right now is on the 29th Ward seat. As for his chances for an aldermanic appointment, Hatch said he has no control over that.

“We always offer ourselves to serve the community and that’s one of the places we thought about,” he said.