As Ald. Isaac Carothers was resigning from office Monday after pleading guilty to corruption charges, a group of Austin activists were gearing up to offer up a replacement for the former 29th Ward elected official.
Carothers pled guilty to taking bribes from a property developer Monday morning and is expected to serve more than two years in prison. He follows in the footsteps of his father, William Carothers, the former 28th Ward alderman who was convicted and served jail time in 1983 for extortion. They’re the first father-and-son aldermen to be convicted for corruption in the city’s history. Mayor Daley will appoint Carothers’ replacement.
In an attempt to get on the mayor’s radar, community leaders in Austin on Monday offered their own choice: West Garfield Park pastor Marshall Hatch.
At a press conference Monday evening at Greater St. John Bible Church in Austin, 1256 N. Waller., community leaders representing the South Austin Coalition Community Council, Austin Safety Net Works and Westside Health Authority joined together to “draft” Hatch as Carothers’ replacement.
“I’m confident that the mayor, at a time when we have some challenges with corruption throughout the city; I think he would do his administration a great deal of good to put a person of high integrity in office,” said Greater St. John pastor, Rev. Ira Acree, who, along with Hatch, is a chair of the LEADER’s Network, a group of activist West Side pastors.
Hatch was not present at the press conference and did not return a phone call to Austin Weekly News prior to our deadline. But days after Carothers was indicted May 28, 2009, Hatch told the newspaper that he was “offering himself up” for the appointment should Carothers resign.
“We always offer ourselves to serve the community and that’s one of the places we thought about,” he said at the time.
The West Side pastor lost to Carothers in the 2003 29th Ward aldermanic race, a bitterly contested campaign. Hatch also considered running for 1st District commissioner in this year’s campaign but decided against it.
Acree and the other activists offered their thoughts to Carothers, but stressed that it was time to look to the future.
“Of course this is a sad day in the city of Chicago and our hearts and prayers go out to the entire Carothers family,” said David Pope, pastor of Brotherly Love Baptist Church, 3801 W. Cermak, an executive secretary of the LEADER’s Network, “but part of our plan from this point forward is that there will be a hand-delivered letter to the mayor’s office requesting a meeting with the mayor to simply sit down with him and address out concerns.”
Pope said that letter would go out Feb. 2.