AUBURN GRESHAM — The Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church, said he is no longer supporting Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th) as a City Hall representative for Auburn Gresham.
"It's time for new leadership for the 17th Ward, and that is why I am endorsing Glenda Franklin as our next alderman," the Pfleger told DNAinfo Chicago. "I know I am taking a risk not endorsing Ald. Thomas, and I know it could put a strain on our relationship, especially if she ends up winning. But I have to do what I think is best for the 17th Ward."
Franklin, 50, is director of the St. Sabina Resource Center. She earned her bachelor's degree in public administration from the University of Phoenix and is pursing a master's in public administration from Roosevelt University.
Thomas, who is chairman of the City Council's Education Committee, said she plans to run for re-election and will continue working to improve the community.
"I continue to focus my efforts on creating new commercial and residential developments, job opportunities for youths and adults, ensuring an affordable, world-class education, and I will continue to work hard for the residents of the 17th Ward," Thomas said.
Pfleger added that unemployment, crime and education are three things that need to be addressed immediately.
"We need a courageous leader with a plan to get us back on track, and I believe that person is Glenda," said Pfleger. "I have nothing against Ald. Thomas. And I am not trying to bash her, but there needs to be a more aggressive plan of action, and I think Glenda possesses the passion, vision and commitment to improve the community."
One local nonprofit caught off guard by Pfleger's endorsement was the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corp., whose office is a block away from both St. Sabina and Thomas' ward office.
"I was surprised to see Father Pfleger not endorse Ald. Thomas, who I think has done a fine job," said Carlos Nelson, the organization's executive director. "Father Pfleger has been on the ground in Auburn Gresham for more than 30 years, and he is in tune with the community and knows what it needs."