West Side minister hoping to replace Johnson on the Cook County board

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By Francia Garcia Hernandez

Rev. Ira J. Acree, co-chairman of the Leaders Network, a West Side social justice and faith-based group, and pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church, is seeking to replace Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson on the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

“I’ve already sent a letter of interest to (Cook County Clerk) Karen Yarbrough,  and I’ve already spoken to the president of the Senate, Don Harmon,” Acree told the Austin Weekly News Wednesday.

Harmon serves as the Oak Park committeeman, while Yarbrough serves as the Proviso Township committeewoman. They are both part of the Democratic Party committee that will appoint Johnson’s replacement. In a weighted vote, the two suburban committeepersons control a majority of the votes needed to make the appointment.

In Chicago, Acree said he has has secured the support of Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) and Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th). Those wards are a significant part of the city portion of the county’s 1st District, which Johnson has represented since 2018.

A prominent West Side civil rights leader with more than 30 years advocating for social justice, Acree said he has the talent for the role.

“It is no secret that I have spent years, just like Brandon Johnson, committed to ending the tale of the two cities. I have a body of work that backs that up,” he said.

Acree said he shares a progressive agenda with Johnson that will allow him to continue working to improve the quality of life for residents of Cook County’s 1st district. If appointed, he is certain the relationships he has built with faith and political leaders throughout the county will help him keep the seat in the long run.

“He’ll be mayor and me fulfilling his vacancy, it’s like a natural fit,” he said.

Earlier this week, The Triibe published an interview with Marshall Hatch Jr. in which he said he would pursue appointment to Johnson’s county board seat. Hatch is the son of Rev. Marshall Hatch, pastor of New Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church and a co-chairman with Acree of the Leaders Network.

Also interested in the seat is Zerlina Smith-Members, a longtime West Side political activist and like Acree and Hatch, Jr. a part of the Leaders Network.

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