I want to draw your readers’ attention to two very different candidates and their campaigns for the Illinois 7th District. Danny K. Davis, incumbent establishment Democrat, has served the 7th for 20 years. In my time as a resident of the 7th, I have heard nothing from him; I have heard there is no high school in the Austin neighborhood; I have seen grocery stores shut down in Maywood; and I have seen his campaign materials. His is the name you know … but I don’t know what he does.

On the other hand, I know Anthony Clark through his ideas and his work. I know him as an organizer, an educator, and a citizen; I know him from his work in Austin, from Maywood, and Oak Park and River Forest. It is through his work that he already serves the people of the 7th District.

Mr. Clark has been vetted by Brand New Congress, a community organization that underscores his progressive bona fides, in addition to his ceaseless organizing and charity. But Anthony Clark’s values and progressive vision have been imperiled by the corrupt incumbent’s cagey (but par for the course) Chicago tactics: Congressman Davis has repeatedly posed financial and legal challenges to Clark’s petitions and called into question the integrity of Clark’s devoted family. These challenges, expected from entrenched Chicago politicos, thwart the very real protocols and promises of democracy. 

What is more, the most perverse aspect of Davis’ craven challenges are not these bankrupt personal attacks, nor his nearly 10% absent rate from congressional votes. No, the best indicator of incumbent Congressman Davis’ unfitness for office is his unwillingness to meet in public and debate candidate Anthony Clark.

In an epoch where the Democratic Party must reckon with its uncertain future, we citizens of the 7th must encourage a robust and earnest debate among viable candidates. Davis’ name recognition is trumped by his absence: absence from debate, absence from the democratic processes, absence of real economic development, and absence of care and devotion to his diverse constituency. 

Clark has already shown his devotion without banking on the lazy inertia of name recognition. 

It is time to put an end to the tricks; it is time for Clark’s name to be on the ballot, so the 7th can hear and see what he plans as our representative in the federal government. It is time for some new and enthusiastic voices for the 7th and for the Democratic Party in 2018.

Adam Paradis

Oak Park

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