Editor's note: The event was postponed due to inclement weather. Read: Severe Weather Prompts Cancellation of 'Mongo' McMichael Fundraiser
"Da Coach" will stump for a Romeoville mayoral candidate next month.
According to a campaign release from Steve "Mongo" McMichael, the candidate's former coach Mike Ditka will endorse him at a March 5 fundraiser in Chicago.
McMichael is running against incumbent John Noak in the April 9 election.
The $100-per person benefit will also feature appearances by some of McMichael's teammates from the Chicago Bears 1985 Super Bowl championship team, including Dan Hampton, Gary Fencik and Matt Suhey.
"Several well-known Chicagoans, political figures and surprise guests will be in attendance," McMichael's press release said, calling the benefit a "star-studded event."
The benefit will start with a private VIP reception from 5 to 6 p.m. for $150 per person at the Old Town Pour House, 1419 N. Wells St., Chicago, followed by the $100-per-person general admission event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
McMichael said the March 5 benefit was organized by friends after Ditka was unable to make it to a fundraiser held in January at his restaurant, Mongo McMichael's, in Romeoville.
"He couldn't be there and he wanted to be," McMichael said.
Noak, who is seeking reelection, questioned the timing of the press release from the McMichael campaign.
"The timing is interesting because they sent out the release the day before my event," Noak said, referring to a Feb. 28 campaign fundraiser slated to take place at Stone City Saloon in Romeoville.
Noak also accused his opponent of using his celebrity to further his campaign instead of tackling the issues.
"Obviously, this is another attempt from Mr. McMichael to take away from my event and avoid talking to me about the issues in a substantial way," Noak said, adding he would be more than happy to take on McMichael in a debate.
"There's no surprise here," Noak added, referring to Ditka's endorsement. "There's nothing shocking that he would be endorsed by the individual that coached him and his teammates ... Those individuals don't represent this area and they don't live here."
Noak, meanwhile, touted his own endorsements by local organizations and elected officials.
In a press release issued last week, Noak cited endorsements by local mayors including Brian Reaves of Lemont, Mike Collins of Plainfield, Rick Chapman of Shorewood and George Pradel of Naperville, along with Congressman Dan Lipinksi (D-3) and Will County Board members Don Moran, Liz Collins, Lee Ann Goodson, Suzanne Hart and Chuck Maher.
Noak has also been endorsed by the Romeoville and Bolingbrook firefighters' unions, Will-Grundy Trades and Labor Council, Will & Grundy Counties Building Trades Council and Operating Engineers Local 150.
"I'm very proud to have that broad base of support," Noak said.
McMichael took exception to Noak's comments about his endorsement by Ditka and other Chicago celebrities.
"I could care less what John Noak thinks," McMichael said. "Most of [Noak's supporters] don't live in Romeoville either ... The gall of Mayor Noak to make that comment about an icon of Chicago and Illinois and his country, I can't believe it."
McMichael said he believes the Chicago event could lead businesses to discover Romeoville.
"Being mayor of your town to me isn't just about your landlocked borders," he said.
"The business fairy doesn't show up at your town borders. You have to go out and solicit," McMichael said, adding he believes the buzz surrounding the benefit could draw attention from businesses throughout the state, leading to more tax revenues for the village. "They know there's a place called Romeoville," he said.
McMichael said his campaign is considering the possibility of a debate with Noak.
"I don't know," he said. "Am I privy to all the information he is being mayor of the town? If not, how can I show up and have an informed opinion on some of the things he's done?"
Even so, he said, "The campaign will be discussing a fact-based debate. We're going to talk about it."