DES MOINES – The Reverend Keith A. Ratliff Sr., pastor of the Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church and president of the Iowa/Nebraska Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, today announced his support for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and will serve as one of the campaign’s co-chairs.
Speaking at a morning news conference at the Statehouse, Ratliff noted that his support for Vander Plaats is “an individual decision based on Bob’s commitment to improving our educational system, economic opportunities for all Iowans and ensuring that our criminal justice system is equal to all.”
He added, “I know that Bob Vander Plaats is not afraid to stand up for what is right. That takes courage. He has what it takes to be a fiscally responsible governor who gets Iowa’s financial house back in order, but there is so much more work to be done,” Ratliff said. “I’ve heard Bob talk about economic empowerment for all Iowans. He’s talked about reviewing our criminal justice system. He’s talked about getting more results from government with less money. He’s talked about the importance of defending the institution of marriage. And, most importantly, he won’t just talk about those things he’ll do something about them. That takes backbone and determination. That’s what I want in my governor – and that’s why I’m standing here today to show my support for him.”
Ratliff, who has been in the ministry 31 years and pastored 29 years, is involved in numerous social and community causes. He is the state historian for the Iowa Missionary and Educational Baptist State Convention and Affiliated Churches. His church opened Joshua Christian Academy this fall to provide parents and students with the option of Christ-centered education in Des Moines’ inner city.
Ratliff also is a national board member with the NAACP, which is the nation’s oldest and most respected civil rights organization. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Simpson College in History/Education and earned his master’s degree from Drake University in religious leadership. He recently retired as a senior engineering analyst at John Deere Des Moines Works, where he has worked for 33 years.
Ratliff and wife Deborah have been married for 31 years and have five children. He has been the recipient of numerous honors for his community service, including the Des Moines Area Religious Council Interfaith Service Award, Fraternity Omega’s Citizen of the Year Award, Des Moines Human Rights Commission Award, Black Ministerial Alliance Community Service Award and induction into the Iowa African American Hall of Fame in December, 2003. The City of Des Moines proclaimed April 17, 1994 as “Rev. Keith A. Ratliff, Sr. Day” and he was awarded the Key to the City of Des Moines.
“I’ve been honored to know Reverend Ratliff and impressed by his years of dedication to serving others. He’s a rock who is the foundation upon which so many others have built a solid future,” Vander Plaats said. “He makes a difference in people’s lives every day. He makes his city and our state a better place each and every day. I’m truly humbled by his support and his confidence in me.”
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