Chicago Mayor Johnson RTA board nominee withdraws nomination after coming under fire

'As a man, I don't have to use the CTA. I'm fortunate to have a car,' Rev. Ira Acree previously said

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Friday, May 24, 2024
RTA board nominee withdraws nomination after coming under fire
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson's RTA board nominee, Rev. Ira Acree, has withdrawn his nomination after coming under fire.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Brandon Johnson's pick to serve on the board of the Regional Transportation Authority has withdrawn his nomination.

The Rev. Ira Acree withdrew his nomination two days after City Council delayed a vote on his appointment.

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Acree claims the mayor didn't ask him to withdraw, but Johnson did not appear to have enough votes.

While Acree's appointment passed the Transportation Committee with a 14-2 vote, some votes were lost between that hearing and a full City Council vote.

This week the mayor held back a planned full council vote on Acree.

SEE ALSO: Illinois lawmakers unveil plan to combine Metra, CTA and Pace into one

Acree is a well-known West Side pastor and civil rights activist, but some aldermen and others were concerned about his qualifications after he had trouble answering basic transit questions, including being unaware of an RTA $730 million deficit, even after he was given some questions in advance.

"I met with the reverend an hour before that committee hearing, I showed him my whole speech and the questions I was going to ask him," said 40th Ward Ald. Andre Vasquez.

While he grew up using public transportation, Acree told the committee, as an adult, he occasionally uses it downtown.

"As a man, I don't have to use the CTA. I'm fortunate to have a car," Acree said.

While transportation is facing a crisis, Acree said he needed more information to make any judgments about CTA Chief Dorval Carter or an effort in Springfield to consolidate the RTA, CTA and Pace.

Before appearing before the committee, also Acree admitted he never spoke with the mayor about the administration's transportation vision.

"I should have been better prepared," Acree admitted Friday.

Despite that admission, Acree blamed the situation on Vasquez and 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack, who voted against him in the committee meeting.

"It is unfortunate that the opponents of African American empowerment have struck again," he said.

Waguespack and Vasquez both said race played no role in their decision.

"I think what we were looking for in any appointee was somebody who's going to bring the skills that's needed for the public transportation system transformation," said Waguespack.

"If anyone has been the opposing force that held him for being appointed, it's not two alders that were going to vote no, it's the administration that said they did not want to have the vote," said Vasquez.

Mayor Johnson also denied he tried to block the vote.

Acree's supporters said those serving on the RTA board don't require expertise. The RTA oversees CTA, Metra and Pace.

Acree did not have any suggestions on who the mayor should now appoint to the RTA, but Vasquez does. He said Johnson should nominate a retired CTA worker, perhaps someone who has driven a bus or a train.