Davis, Conway make final push for Congress

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Picking a U.S. congressman for Oak Park and River Forest in the March 20 Democratic primary comes down to a choice between sticking with the longtime incumbent or shifting gears in favor of a relative newcomer.

River Forest resident Jacques Conway, 49, a former Oak Park police officer and high school board member, is making his first run at a national office. He's hoping to unseat Austin resident Danny Davis, 70, who has held the post since 1997.

In a recent endorsement interview, Conway admitted that he'd likely vote similarly to Davis on many issues before Congress. The difference, he said, is the 20-year age gap between the two candidates, and his belief that he'll bring more energy to the post.

Conway knocked Davis for his low attendance record in the House of Representatives and said he'll bring a different "flavor to the Kool-Aid."

"Politically we're not that far at all, and most Democrats aren't," he said. "Voting-wise, there won't be a difference, but energy-wise and purpose-wise and want-to-do-it-wise, I think that I could make a splash."

Conway is focusing his campaign on education reform, along with crime and development in the district, which stretches west to Hillside and all the way east to Lake Michigan. He currently works as head of Teamwork Englewood, a South Side nonprofit he helped found, which focuses on disadvantaged children.

"Education is primarily the big push. Our state and our country, we're just lagging behind so much in our educational system. There's such a disparity. When I leave River Forest and Oak Park and go to Englewood, it brings tears to my eyes to see the disparity in this country in this time."

He also previously worked at Park National Bank in Oak Park, before it was closed by federal regulators, and is pastor of Neighborhood United Methodist Church in Maywood.

Davis said he wanted to run for another term as he's having "a lot of fun" and doing meaningful work in Congress. Since 2000, he said, some $20 billion has been sent back to the 7th Congressional District from Washington, for everything from infrastructure projects, to health care and hospitals. He doesn't perceive that money to be a "waste," and said he's a fan of earmarks.

"I'm not of the opinion that there is nearly the waste and inefficiency in government now that there used to be and that people kind of cry about," Davis said. "It would seem that every entity trying to get resources from the federal government swears to God that they don't have enough money to operate."

Davis has recently thrown his name out for consideration for other positions, including mayor of Chicago and Cook County board president. But he said those flirtations weren't about being bored with Congress. Rather, he wanted to be able to exert his influence on the selection of the eventual candidate.

"My purpose in politics is to develop power and influence, I don't make any bones about that," Davis said, "because if you're impotent, then you can't move nothing. You can't make things happen. You can't get things done. You're just someplace, and I've never wanted to be just someplace."

Davis said he's proud of his service thus far in Congress, including sponsoring a bill to help ex-convicts get a second chance in life and his successfully pushing for government-funded home visitations for "at-risk" families, as part of recent health care reform. That program awarded some $124 million in grants in 2011 for families to receive home visits from nurses and social workers, hoping to improve everything from health to school readiness.

The congressman said his work feels unfinished, including his efforts to pass an anti-bullying bill that he sponsored, requiring states to track data on the prevalence of bullying and harassment at schools.

Conway faces a tall test, as he's considered a heavy underdog. Davis has raised some $148,885 in this election cycle, and his campaign has $263,845 in cash on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission. Some of his top contributors include the American Postal Workers Union, Laborers International Union of North America and Planned Parenthood, among many others.

The commission lists no fundraising total for Conway, though the River Forester said last month that he had raised a few thousand dollars.

Reader Comments

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Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2012 11:58 AM

up the child sex abuse cases.If convicted Capital Punishment is to good for that crew.I am Polish. I charge upper Cath. Church officers w/o aiding Nazi war criminal out of Europe after wwII under papal letters.However, the world is a better place with the good works performed by lower officers of the church.I dont attend church.Abortion is wrong and conways silence in an age of information makes me think he is pro abortion.Swing away, Gentlemen

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2012 11:51 AM

up the child sex abuse cases.Capital Punishment is to good for that crew.I am Polish. I accuse upper Cath. Church members of helping Nazis out of Europe after WWII.However, the world is better off w/church than w/o churches good works.Abortion is simply wrong.The bad news bear might simply become a blood and tissue donor and save someones life.That chance alone makes his abortion misguided.Conways silence in an age of information makes me think he is pro abortion.My opinion.Gentlemen, swing away

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: March 11th, 2012 11:39 AM

To JIm,Phil and RD: The discussion is "how does a woman saving a life of a child helps Brian and the vote against Conway.If the story is anecedotal than, than the story of Tim Tebows parents running an orphanage overseas is factual.That charity makes me strive to be a better person.I dont go to any church, but i admire the acts of the lower management of the church,like the Sis.of Notre Dame @ Lake and Central.Priests and upper manage. of the church are terribly wrong in condoning and covering u

Reagan Democrat  

Posted: March 10th, 2012 4:11 PM

Sounds like the Church really helped Brian. So should the Church be responsible for all saved lives through college? Where can I apply? How did he help you Brian? In what significant way.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: March 10th, 2012 1:07 PM

Phil, you are correct.However, that does not mean his life should have been aborted.Lets have his trial,convict him and punish him, and punish him for destroying his own life.But he, like you and me did not deserve to be aborted.

Another anecdote from Phil of Ideas  

Posted: March 10th, 2012 10:29 AM

Practicing attorney? Where? That young man screwed the pooch at a local law school and then finished up at Notre Dame. On July 8, 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported that his eponymous Foundation was in contravention of state and federal laws, having not filed tax returns and various forms for many years. The paper also reported that the charity was defunct, with $864,000 in funds unaccounted for. This young man replied that he was in the process of locating bank statements.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 10th, 2012 9:45 AM

Brian, anecdotal evidence is often inspiring but does not advance the discussion.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: March 10th, 2012 8:57 AM

A young single woman from the South Side was raped.She became pregnant and would not abort the child because of her Catholic Faith.With full financial and educational support from the Church the kid went through Catholic Schools and Notre Dame, where he played football and was drafted by the Bears. He now is a practicing attorney. The childs life helped me.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 10:37 PM

President Obama supports reproductive rights as do a majority of women ages 18-54. Interesting to note that so many of the politicians who proclaim themselves to be anti-choice are also the same folks who consistently vote against funding programs that provide health care services to children.

Reagan Democrat  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 10:22 PM

How does a woman saving a child's life help Brian?

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 9:58 PM

Freespirit: I doing better than most,not as good as some. Sorry,cant recall a the good people i have met. Stop by the house. I make a great Long Island Ice Tea. According to conways face book his religion is stated as "social justice"I fear not what conway says, but I fear what he doesnt say and his web site is a best meager. Obama is a Christion and pro abortion.The non vote on this issue might still be the best choice.

Freespirit  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 9:09 PM

Brian Slowiak, how the heck are you? Haven't heard from you in ages. We wondered if you were Ok. My kids are doing well. One, had major back surgery and the other is in college. We miss you and trust that you are at peace. (I hope you know who this is, I don't care to say here) Being that Jacques is a believer in Jesus Christ, I don't think he would be in support of PP or abortion. Just to be sure, next time I see him I will ask him, bc this is an issue I'm passionate about.

Berwyn  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 10:52 AM

Did Conway lose his job and house?

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 10:16 AM

Freespirit: Do you know Conways official position on abortion? I havent heard a word from him about. Maybe in this race, because I suspect Conway is pro abortion, the course might be to not vote for either of them.

OPRF Achievement  

Posted: March 9th, 2012 6:44 AM

Support CONWAY! This election is about old, chummy, bought and sold politics vs a new, fresh and principled individual. Davis has spent half his life in Congress. He has NO ideas. A nice gentleman, but he needs to be replaced for the best of OPRF and Illinois.

NOPE 2012 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 7th, 2012 9:00 AM

It's time to replace the genteel, verbose, and utterly useless Danny Davis, a machine hack who's done nothing for Oak Park and any part of the district without a ward designation. Mr Conway would be a huge improvement.

Freespirit  

Posted: March 7th, 2012 12:14 AM

Davis is supported by blood money.........MILLIONS of innocent babies in the womb being slaughtered by Planned Parenthood. Kill a life, keep Davis in office. Not with my vote.

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