CHICAGO (CBS) - It was a gathering of great importance Saturday for the black community.
For the first time in more than 20 years, African Americans came together to hear from potential black candidates who want to run for mayor of Chicago.
CBS 2′s Suzanne Le Mignot was there.
One by one, 10 potential black candidates for mayor explained why they should get the endorsement of the Chicago Coalition for Mayor. The organization is made up of more than 20 African-American businesses and interest groups.
Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward) is the chairman of the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus and said it’s important the black vote is not split.
“If our community stays together … we have the momentum to really make a difference, because we have a large percentage of the vote out here,” he said.
Burnett said crime, education and jobs as important issues facing the black community.
The media was not allowed to hear candidates’ comments before voters inside Bethel AME Church. Some hopefuls talked with reporters afterward.
“The coalition should back me because I’m not a politician,” Christopher Cooper said. “The coalition should back me because I’m concerned about putting people back to work.”
Congressman Danny Davis said his 30 years of “electorial political” experience should give him the edge. William “Dock” Walls says he’s the candidate with the most support.
The group also included two state legislators, Sen. Rickey Hendon and Rep. Annazette Collins.
“We need someone who can bring everyone together and is going to fight for all of the things that we need,” Collins said.
Some potential candidates who spoke were still not fully committing to a mayoral run.
“I will be supporting whoever this group comes out, with recommendation — if it’s me, then I will run,” U.S. Sen. Roland Burris said.
Also on hand was former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, who said she’s on an exploratory tour.
Chicago resident Angela McClellan listened to each person’s platform and said she received a lot of “good information” from Saturday’s gathering.
Each person in attendance voted for the person they felt should get the coalition’s backing. Polls will also be used to determine who gets their support. The person chosen is expected to be announced at a news conference on Tuesday.
The crowded field of declared and potential mayoral candidates also includes Latino contenders Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and former White House Chief of State Rahm Emanuel.