With the general election just three months away, Chester GOP Council candidate Rev. Dr. Bayard Taylor has announced he is withdrawing from the campaign.
The Iowa-native, who is also senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church for nearly 18 years and a pastor of care at Chester-Crozer Medical Center, said “ trying to squeeze in the added weight” of politics alongside his roles in the ministry has become “overwhelming.”
A pastor-turned-politician was supposed to be the perfect combination for the advocacy of salvation, both religiously and socially. Or so Taylor thought.
“I felt being in the race was an evangelistic expression for the church so people can know who I am and want to come to the church,” Taylor said. “I just came to the realization: How much can a pastor do? And after reasoning, there’s no way I can give full-time.”
Weren’t these career imbalances foreseeable before he announced his candidacy? Taylor said, “I knew in the beginning that this was a tremendous responsibility, I didn’t know it was going to be this tough.”
Sources familiar with Calvary Baptist and city government, who wish to remain unidentified, surmised that Taylor’s decision to withdraw came after pushback from Chester City Councilwoman Portia West, a Democrat, who is also a member of Taylor’s congregation and who is running to retain her seat in the upcoming election.
Taylor’s candidacy could have been seen as a direct threat.
“That’s not true,” Taylor said. “Councilwoman West and I have a great relationship; it’s never been a competition between the two of us. We’re both counting on the city to choose the best candidate.”
Taylor also said he wasn’t vying for West’s seat, but was seeking election to the two-year seat, currently held by Councilman William Morgan. Morgan was appointed to the vacant seat last year after then-Councilman Nafis Nichols was hired as the city’s chief financial officer, a position created by the state.
Further dispelling rumors of alleged political intimidation, Taylor said his own running-mates also witnessed him struggling to balance pastoring and campaigning.
“My party knew I was struggling; they knew I was wrangling and struggling,” Taylor said. “I’m sure they’re preparing to run someone else.”
Chester GOP chairman and retired-Chester Fire Commissioner James “Jimmy” Johnson did not return calls by press-time about whether the party intends to find a replacement for Taylor.
Immersing himself in both the ministry and politics was also interfering with his family life, Taylor said. As a father of five children, grandfather of 15 and a great-grandfather of 13, all of whom are scattered across the country, Taylor said, “I thought I was taking away from my family.”
Taylor said his wife, Rev. Claudia Taylor, who is a Republican candidate for the Chester-Upland School Board, felt the same and there is also speculation that she may be considering withdrawing from the campaign.
“She said she didn’t know if she could do it,” Taylor said about his wife’s campaign.
Although he is stepping back from seeking elected life, Taylor said he will still continue to help the city through his role as a pastor.
“I plan to continue to be a voice and activist to turn our city around,” Taylor said, adding that he still has “an itch for the political agenda.”
“We tend to think this is a paid job and not a representation of residents,” Taylor said about the current political climate in the city. “The city needs a renewal of qualified leaders. That’s my issue; I never wanted a paid position.”
So far this year, the city has experienced roughly 20 homicides and frequent shootings.
“I want to continue city marches, getting people to know we see you, we hear you and we care about you,” Taylor said about crime. “I’m also working with Chester Police chaplains to get other ministers excited about chaplaincy.”
Taylor said, “I’m not giving up on this city.”