By: Chauncey Mann, Chaffey High School Alumni C/O 1978
Ontario, CA — What an honor it is to pen this editorial profiling Aaron Bratton, an attorney, entrepreneur, community leader, and a proud third generation Ontario native resident. Aaron Bratton is a bright and gifted individual, and I believe, a rising star and a shining light beaming just at the right time for the City of Ontario.
Aaron Bratton’s life experience and love for his hometown has brought him right back to Ontario. In 2004, I recall a young Barack Obama who took the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Boston to deliver the keynote speech and when he finished speaking, in my heart, I knew that we all had just witnessed the future of this great country. On Sunday, August 28, a kickoff for Aaron’s campaign for Ontario City Council was held at the original Bratton home that his grandparents move to in 1956, 412 East Sunkist, Ontario. This is where it all began for the Bratton family. On that hot and sunny day, after hearing the presentations followed by Aaron’s speech, I believe we all witnessed the future of the City of Ontario. It is noted that in the history of the City of Ontario, an African American has never been elected or served on the Ontario City Council.
Who is Aaron Bratton?
As a product of the City of Ontario, Aaron Bratton represents the rich culture and diversity of a growing, maturing, evolving city and community. Aaron is a proud graduate of Ontario High School, the same school as his father, aunts, and many other relatives and friends who also resided in Ontario. In 2010, Aaron attended California State University of San Bernardino (CSUSB) where he graduated in 2013 with his B.A. in Political Science. In 2017, Aaron graduated from the Pepperdine University School of Law, Juris Doctor (JD). In July, 2021, Aaron passed the California State Bar Examination and on October 6, 2022, he was sworn in to the State Bar by Honorable Justice Richard T. Fields. Aaron is a faithful member of his church, Mt. Zion Church of Ontario, where he serves on the Trustee Board.
Why is Aaron Bratton running for Ontario City Council?
So why is Aaron Bratton running for City Council? The answer is Aaron loves Ontario and Ontario is his home. He’s not running for egotistical reasons like power or because it’s the family business. In fact, Aaron’s father, Walter Bratton, however, was very passionate and outspoken on politics and public policy matters, but he would have never considered running for public office.
Of the many qualities and characteristics of Aaron Bratton, he possesses an honest spirit, a caring heart, and the intellect to assess and evaluate positions rationally, even after listening to those who may differ with him. Nonetheless, Aaron has the savvy, skills, and ability to build consensus and to unify people based on what we all value, things we have in common, and through a shared vision or purpose.
In years past, Aaron’s presence in this race for Ontario City Council would certainly be very unlikely, but today it has become a reality. Thanks to the deep ties and the rich history of his church and family, Aaron has emerged as part of the legacy of a proud family and community of support, and to that point, Aaron himself has said, “I stand on the shoulders of giants, I would not be where I am today without them pouring into me; I am what I am because of my support system.”
Aaron’s father, Walter Green Bratton, was born in 1951 in Rock Hill, South Carolina to James Lawrence and Elvenia Bratton. In 1956, they moved to Ontario, California, and settled down to raise their family. James Lawrence was a brilliant entrepreneur, businessman, and political adviser, who started a successful Janitorial Service in Ontario and Elvenia was employed by General Electric. While I was in my early 20’s, I’ll never forget something that James Lawrence once told me, “If you are willing to make enough phone calls and knock on enough doors, there is nothing that you can’t get done.” Given the timeliness and relevance to the situation, I’m happy to now share this advice with his grandson Aaron as he embarks on this impending political journey. In 1975, Aaron’s father Walter became the first African American firefighter ever hired by the Ontario Fire Department.
In 1979, Aaron’s mother, Marilyn Chase, from Phoenix, Arizona, moved to California to join her future husband, Walter Bratton in holy matrimony. Together, Walter and Marilyn spent 42 years sharing a love not only for each other and their family, but also for the city and community of Ontario. In the early 1980’s, Aaron’s parents bought some prime land in Ontario and built a family home together where they raised their children, Marlon, Marcus, Walter Albert, Aaron, Marlindy, and Ashley; a home which also became home to many other family and friends from time to time, throughout the community. In March of this year (2022), unfortunately, Aaron’s father passed away after succumbing to the dreadful symptoms of the disease ALS.
Campaign Kickoff Message
A guest speaker at the kickoff, Dr. Cherina Betters, Aaron’s cousin, spoke of Aaron’s candidacy and attempt to make history in this coming November 2022 election when she said, “What we’re trying to do here is not just make, quote, unquote, “history” based on racial or ethnic identity, we’re trying to make change!” Dr. Betters also quoted from the bible, Zachariah 4:10, “Don’t despise the days of humble beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” The vision, the heart, the need to collaborate is what she shared from her personal experience about Aaron’s need to make sure that everybody is connected in this effort. And finally, Aaron agrees that it would be a disservice if our city government is not working closely with our schools to ensure that each and every one of our students, our youth, the folks that live in our community, get what they need to be successful. “Be grateful for Humble Beginnings because the Next Level will always require much more of you. Next Level is Coming; Get Ready.” (By writer Jeanette Coron).
A clear call for change and fresh leadership is what we heard in Aaron’s campaign message and his personal promise for Ontario. In the spirit of God’s word, Aaron answers “yes” to the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper, am I my sister’s keeper? This is a responsibility that we all have, to care for one another while seeking the best interest for everyone within our communities and borders.
Ontario is still growing city with an abundance of diversity and the sooner our leaders acknowledge that diversity is a strength rather than a weakness, we can begin to see real progress for all of our residents. These are the key concepts, guiding principles, and ideas that Aaron believes to be true and has dedicated his adult life to bring to fruition.
The Bratton for Ontario City Council campaign has garnered the support and endorsement of Teamsters Local 1932 as well as the support and endorsement of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest public sector union in California (96,000 workers).
Stepping Into His Purpose
Running for city council of a city the size of Ontario is a pretty intimidating and daunting process in general, for most anybody. In so doing, Aaron understands that if he’s running, he had to run a professional, organized, and well managed campaign, so for the last year or so, Aaron and his team have been planning, organizing, and networking, just in case the decision to run was made.
Aaron is on the record saying, “This is a campaign not about Aaron, but it’s a campaign fundamentally about Ontario and it’s about the families living here. I’m going to prioritize affordable housing, good paying jobs, and youth programs that prepare our kids for careers in high paying, high tech and medical fields.” Growing up watching his dad as a firefighter and later a fire captain, first responders are forever near and dear to his heart. He wants to make sure they are treated with dignity and respect and to invest in the fire and police departments so that they have the equipment and resources they need to keep us safe.
Aaron believes that his story is one that is part of the larger story of Ontario, our town, and our county. If you look closely, you can see in Aaron Bratton a belief that he has a spiritual connection to his parents and his grandparents, and all of the people in which he represents. There is no doubt that Aaron cares deeply about the issues that matter to the community, and most importantly, he is someone that is willing to sacrifice and do something about it. It’s time for a brighter future and fresh, new leadership in Ontario. With all of our support, Aaron Bratton is uniquely prepared to take that step into his purpose and calling and to bring fresh new leadership to the Ontario City Council, and out of that, a Brighter Ontario shall emerge.