Oak Park activist announces run for Congress

Local teacher Anthony Clark, founder of Suburban Unity Alliance to take on Danny Davis

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Anthony Clark, an Oak Park resident, Oak Park and River Forest High School teacher and founder of the advocacy group Suburban Unity Alliance is running for Congress in 2018.

Clark, 34, announced his candidacy for Illinois 7th Congressional District on his Facebook page on Wednesday, May 17.

Reached by phone, Clark told Wednesday Journal that he was encouraged to run by several people in the community who connected him with an organization called Brand New Congress, which aims to fix a "broken" Congress, according to its website.

"Both major parties have chosen big donors over the American people," the Brand New Congress website states. "We are going to recruit and run hundreds of outstanding candidates in a single, national campaign for Congress in 2018. Together, they will pass a practical plan to significantly increase wages, remove corruption, and protect the rights of all Americans."

Clark said in a telephone interview that he has dedicated his life to giving back to the community, but he felt not enough was being done to address systemic issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny.

"I thought, 'I have to do more,'" he said.

Clark has a profile on the Brand New Congress website stating that he aims to end partisan politics in Congress in an effort to bring the nation "together and celebrate our common dreams."

"When we do this, we realize that we are all part of the same humanity," Clark stated in the online profile.

Clark says he founded the local Suburban Unity Alliance in 2016 "to work to end discrimination in our communities and to help fund good causes that may need a helping financial hand."

Clark says that's why he led a delegation of the Women's March in Chicago and collaborated with the Women's March D.C. and "fought hard for the Welcoming Village ordinance recently passed in Oak Park."

"We must embrace diversity," he says on the Brand New Congress webpage.

Clark's LinkedIn profile page notes that he has worked as a special education teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School since 2013. His work history notes that he worked in special education at other Chicago area schools beginning in 2009, including Banner West Academy, Aspira Mirta Ramirez High School and Kenwood Academy High School.

He served in the U.S. Air Force from 2003 to 2009.

Clark said in an interview that he will not run a negative campaign against his opponent, Congressman Danny Davis, who is currently in his 10th term in that office. Davis was first elected in 1996.

"I truly thank Danny for everything he's done for Chicago and the surrounding communities," Clark said, but added that it is "time for a change."

Davis could not immediately be reached for comment, but Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (D-1st), who once served as Davis' chief of staff, described the incumbent as a liberal Democrat, not a moderate.

"I don't see how anyone can try to position themselves to the left of him," Boykin said. "There's nowhere else to go. He's got that space already and he's done a tremendous job as a U.S. Congressman. But this is democracy and we all welcome those who would put themselves forward for public service."

Clark said he is running as a Democrat but is not afraid to take on members of his own party if they put partisan politics before constituents. He described Brand New Congress as post-partisan.

"I'm ready and willing to hold anybody accountable," he said.

Clark is one of seven candidates endorsed by Brand New Congress, the only candidate running in Illinois, so far. Clark said other Illinois Brand New Congress candidates are in the works, but none are yet ready to announce their candidacies.

* Staff reporter Michael Romain contributed to this article.

Email: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Jim Bowman  

Posted: June 17th, 2017 10:53 AM

Kevin Peppard, I'm late with this, having become something of a drive-by commenter, but Danny Davis challenged signatures of an opponent in the 2014 primary, forcing him out of the race. He was River Forester Dan Roche, whose case I wrote about in my Oak Park Newspapers blog here -- http://www.oakpark.com/Community/Blogs/1-31-2014/Danny-Davis-turns-back-challenger/ -- as reported by Chicago Magazine writer Carol Felsenthal -- http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/Felsenthal-Files/January-2014/Mr-Roche-Will-Not-Go-to-Washington-Danny-Davis-Made-Sure-of-That/. FYI.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: May 19th, 2017 10:28 PM

Kevin, well now that you brought up the boxing analogy, I'll point out "they" said the same thing in 1964 about Ali's chances of success, when he challenged big bad Sonny Liston (the "baddest man on the planet" at the time). We all know the outcome to that contest. And it wasn't what the "wise men" knew it would be. Like Sonny was then, Davis is long in the tooth. And like Ali, an unconventional, young, quick of mind and wit challenger like Clark might have a chance. I like you, don't think so - but am not so quick to discount Clark's chances - at least not yet.

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2017 9:25 PM

Reality Check #2. What is the 7th District? All Districts of Congress have about 700,000 people, and Oak Park is but a pimple on the ass of the 7th. It is designed to be a majority Black Democratic district, partially enveloped by the majority Hispanic Democratic district of Luis Gutierrez, which has a gerrymandered shape of a wishbone, connecting the Latino Northwest and Southwest sides via the suburbs. Davis' district includes Oak Park, most of River Forest, much of Proviso Township (out to the Du Page border where Gutierrez wishbones around), a smidgen of Berwyn, most of the West Side, and then the Loop, Near North Side, most of the Gold Coast, and then is gerrymandered down to connect to a large portion of Englewood. Three-quarters of the vote lies in Chicago. In Oak Park, we clamor for "diversity", and we've got it in the 7th District. What happened to the Candidacy of Jacques Conway, who was a distinguished retired Black Oak Park Police detective, previously elected to the OPRF High School Board, and a lay minister of a church, when he ran against Davis in 2012? He got only 22% of the suburban vote, 13% in the city, and 16% overall. He was was an infinitely better candidate than Anthony Clark. I met Conway, when I called in a report of a felony, where I witnessed it, and he pursued the investigation. Clark has never been elected to anything, not even the Library Board. He has absolutely no chance, particularly with a campaign statement that is a cross between Muhammad Ali talking to Howard Cosell in rhyme, and a Rap Artist.

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2017 7:30 PM

Reality Check for Jim Bowman, a columnist/blogger for this paper. You imply that Danny Davis can routinely defeat people in the Democratic primary by challenging their petitions. I checked on the County Clerk's website for the last six Democratic primary elections. Davis had to run in five contested ones. In also checking the County Officers Electoral Board records posted online as far as they go, I could not find anyone who challenged opponents to Davis for the 7th District. I know something about this, having thrown a particular person off the Republican ballot for that office in 1996, for trying to run with a slogan. My victory was affirmed by the Circuit Court, U.S. District Court, and Illinois Appellate Court. Jim, do you know of where you speak? I'm not a supporter of Davis, but he wins because of his organization. More later.

Marie Perkins from Oak Park  

Posted: May 18th, 2017 5:15 PM

Sorry Anthony. My vote is with Danny Davis. No one has been more of a champion for the environment, women's rights, gay rights and animal rights than Congressman Davis. His voting record on all of those issues is impeccable.

Susan Labaj from Crystal Lake  

Posted: May 18th, 2017 4:12 PM

A new member is not likely to accomplish more than a long tenured member such as Rep Davis

Bruce Kline  

Posted: May 18th, 2017 3:05 PM

Alex, I absolutely agree with you. Jason, I absolutely agree with you.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: May 18th, 2017 12:19 PM

Alex, in a democratic society you get to decide that with your vote. He has every right to try to get on the ballot and then we all get to decide.

Alex Garcia  

Posted: May 18th, 2017 9:24 AM

I can't see anyone so steeped in leftist rhetoric contributing anything of value to the U.S. Congress or any other legislative body.

Jim Bowman  

Posted: May 17th, 2017 9:54 PM

Look for signature-challenging to beat all when it comes to this man's getting on the ballot as Danny Davis's opponent. He will not have enough money to keep up with the challenges. It's been tried, and it's a no-go.

Alan Majeski  

Posted: May 17th, 2017 3:05 PM

Davis is not a moderate. He is a centrist akin to Hillary Clinton whom he supported in the primary in 2016. That hardly makes him left.

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