From John Kass, The Chicago Tribune:
As the pastor of a congregation of at least 20,000 at the Salem Baptist Church on the South Side, Reverend and State Senator James T. Meeks brings leverage to any discussion of who should replace the departing Mayor Richard Daley.
“I’m collecting signatures for petitions and studying the process,” Meeks said. “I’ve got some studying to do. If and when I announce, I want to come with something. I don’t want to have just fluff.”
Fluff isn’t the word I’d use for Meeks. There are many candidates puffed up in the media who don’t connect with their communities. But Meeks definitely connects. He can fire up a crowd, and his main issue, improving public education, has helped him build alliances across political and demographic lines throughout the state.
Meeks’ support for a voucher system for children trapped in Chicago’s worst public schools was voted down. But it took guts for him to go up against Chicago Public Schools bureaucrats tied to the legislative black caucus and the teachers unions.
“A child is only in third grade once,” he said. “Prison populations can be tracked by what happened to a child’s education in the third grade.”