Cairo Mayor Tyrone Coleman has been tapped to be the running mate of Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar, one of eight Democratic candidates for Illinois governor.
Pawar, alderman of Chicago's 47th Ward on the north side of the city, said Coleman "embodies the struggle that every Illinois family and town is experiencing.
"While the wealthy keep getting wealthier, the rest of us are struggling to get ahead," Pawar added.
Coleman is a pastor, a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and was co-chairman of Gov. Jim Edgar's Minority Outreach Coalition. He was elected Cairo mayor in 2011.
Coleman, born in Cairo in 1949, said when was growing up the city was the "hub" of the tri-state area, drawing people in for jobs, entertainment and medical care.
He left for about 15 years, 10 years of it in the military. When he returned in 1984, Cairo had already changed dramatically.
"(I) saw the devastation that years of disinvestment had caused," he said in the release. "I saw there was a need for my assistance here at home. I just thought that there was a better way of life for people who live in Cairo, and if I could do anything to make that thought a reality, I needed to be in government."
"Cairo is a microcosm of what's happening around Illinois and around this country," Pawar said, adding that despite the high rates of poverty and empty storefronts there are also strong people and families.
Coleman, Pawar said, beat an entrenched political machine to become mayor and has fought for public housing, economic development, and good jobs.
His involvement in electoral politics began in 1990, with the Cairo school board. He then was tapped by Gov. Edgar for the Minority Outreach Coalition. In 1991, he founded what is now the Alexander-Pulaski Branch of the N.A.A.C.P.
From 1986-2012, Coleman hosted a talk and gospel radio show on WKRO-AM 1490. From 1999-2012, he was pastor at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Cairo and currently is Interim Pastor at the First Missionary Baptist Church.
He was elected to the Cairo City Council 2007-2011 and is currently in his second term as mayor.
Besides Pawar, Democratic candidates running in the March 2018 primary are state Sen. Daniel Biss; Bob Daiber, Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools; state Rep. Scott Drury; Tio Hardiman, former director of CeaseFire in Chicago; Chris Kennedy, former chairman of the U of I board of trustees; Alex Paterakis, civil engineer and business owner; and J.B. Pritzker, venture capitalist and philanthropist.