Despite long odds and strong opposition, apostolic minister Kimberly Daniels won a city council seat after God led her to run for office
Jacksonville, Fla., is my hometown. With 20-plus miles of beaches and the most beautiful river views in the world, it is a great place to vacation and even a better one to live.
However, my city—like most others—also has its negative side. Jacksonville is nationally known for violent crimes. I grew up in the LaVilla area, where as a child, I loved living in my neighborhood—located a few blocks from the office where I currently work as a city council representative. I received almost 93,000 votes after entering a political race a few weeks before the May 17, 2011 election.
Becoming an elected official seemed unreachable, considering my mother was a single mom of three daughters from three different men and my father owned a bar in LaVilla, which featured “Sissy Shows” (female impersonators).
At times, I still feel like I am going to wake up one day and say, “I dreamed I was an at-large city council representative in Jacksonville.” As I look out my window onto the streets where I used to play, I cannot help but feel humbled. Though it is not a dream, it all started with one.
A Divine Dream
I was helping a friend, Glorious Johnson, with a political campaign. She was in a race to become the mayor of Jacksonville. After a long flight from Hong Kong, I fell into a deep sleep in the wee hours of the morning. Suddenly, I was standing before God, but I could not see Him. In my spirit I knew I was before Him. I heard an audible voice that said: “Glorious will not finish the race. It is not too late for you to get on the ballot.”
I wish that I could say that I fell down on my face and cried, “Yes Lord!” On the contrary, I argued with God: “I just started a church in another city. Lord, this is crazy. I am going to lose all my money. There is no way I can do this.”
As I was standing before the Lord in the dream, making every excuse that I could, I was awakened by the phone. Still in a daze, I answered the call, and it was Glorious. She said, “Kim, I cannot finish the race. I will have to get off the ballot.” My heart began to beat fast as the reality of the dream and the timing of Glorious’ call hit me. I told Glorious that I would call her later, but I had no intention of sharing the dream with her. However, I was quickened in my spirit by the voice of the Lord: “Are you going to ignore what just happened?”
With only the fear of God as my motivation, I called Glorious to explain the dream. Later, I called Paul Zink, pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville. He encouraged me that obeying God was my only option, but this was not the answer I was looking for.
I also called Steve Strang, CEO and founder of Charisma Media, who has published my books. He also encouraged me to act upon my dream. When I asked my husband, Ardell, what to do, he said: “If you just stood before God, why are you asking me? ... You had better do it!” I really could have used a naysayer at the time. All I needed was for someone to tell me that I sounded like I had lost my mind. But everyone said, “Just do it.”
The most difficult part of this process was deciding whether I should run as a Democrat or Republican. Though I had worked with many Republican groups on Capitol Hill ministerially, I had never officially committed to any political party. I talked with a few local Democrats and some of my friends who were Republicans. Everyone said the same thing, “You have to run as a Republican.”
A Democrat or Republican?
Eventually, I received wise counsel from Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. (a blue dog Democrat) of High Impact Leadership Coalition and Jim Lafferty (a Republican) of the Traditional Values Coalition. They both suggested that I should run as a Democrat. I decided that I could effectively reach out to all people as a socially conservative, blue dog Democrat.
Fighting for national issues as a conservative for seven years, I had never thought of people as Democrats or Republicans. Stepping into a citywide race was my rude awakening. Because of my views, the Democratic Party would not touch me with a 10-foot pole, and most Republicans were allergic to the word Democrat. People with different backgrounds accepted me, but the system was not ready for me—especially the liberal media.
God made a mockery of them, as I was supported by ex-high level clansmen, the Sons of the Confederates, the Black » Panthers, the homeless and the wealthy. God was crossing all lines. He took foolishness and confounded the wise.
During the entire political process, the thing that bothered me the most was the fact that conservative Christians thought I had backslidden because I was running on the Democratic ticket. Guess what? God is not a Republican or a Democrat. As far as I am concerned, there are demons on both sides. Even though I was the same contender of the faith that I had always been, some conservative believers questioned my position.
I was introduced to a lady who held a high position in the Tea Party. After she spent a few hours with me, she said, “You were Tea Party before the group was ever organized.” We prayed together, and I thought that maybe the Tea Party would be my political niche. Later, I realized that this thought did not come from God.
The local Tea Party only endorsed me with a letter from one of their black members. They even had a black woman go on the Tea Party website to rally others to support me. Finally, after the race was over, I received a personal email from a high-level Tea Party officer congratulating all the winners of the 2011 spring campaign. Guess who was left off the list? Me. God bless the local Jacksonville Tea Party, but can I openly get an endorsement from a white brother or sister?
Walking in Truth and Winning
How did I go from Demon-buster to Demon-crat? I had never had a problem dealing with conservatives on a national level, but I regret to report how liberal politicians on Capitol Hill treated me when I reached out to them years ago. From what I have experienced in my city over the past year, it would only be fair for me to downgrade the word racism to prejudice. I do experience prejudice as a council member.
My best friends just happen to be white, and I refuse to use racial slurs—even against situations of the most blatant bigotry. Despite this, Jacksonville needs a racial cleansing on both sides. Yes, we have our first black mayor, and I was the first black to win my seat. But racism is a stronghold that creates climates, which control the thinking of the people. Obtaining political positions does not change the hearts and minds of men. Only God can. This is why every city needs godly leaders who will stand for morality and raise the banner for what it means to be an American.
My greatest opposition during the campaign was from pro-homosexual groups. These were not just gay people (with whom I happen to get along well), but organized racists and atheists who manifested the hatred and intolerance that they hypocritically claim to be against. A note was placed on my car, “Nigger, get out of the race or else.”
A national hate campaign was launched against me on the Internet, creating millions of hits in my name. One group called The Truth Wins Out got on the local news, demanding my withdrawal from the race. They were right about one thing—I was walking in truth and I won. The taunts for me to get off the wall gave me more faith to rebuild the walls of my city.
Is God calling you to rebuild the walls of your city through the political arena? If so, close your ears to the gainsayers, naysayers and soothsayers. I prophesy to the leaders in the kingdom who are called to be elected officials: Be mobilized, in Jesus’ name. Hear the voice of the Lord. If you are obedient, you will eat of the good of the land. Do not be distracted by sacrifices because obedience is better.
Elected as a city council representative in Jacksonville, Fla., last May, Kimberly Daniels is the founder of Spoken Word Ministries (SWM), Kimberly Daniels Ministries International and Word Bible College. SWM is an inner city, multi-racial church with locations in Jacksonville and the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area. She is the author of several books, including Against All Odds; From a Mess to a Miracle; Clean House, Strong House; Delivered to Destiny; Give It Back!; Inside Out; Prayers that Bring Change; and her latest, Spiritual House Cleaning.