Top Democrats to battle it out for 29th Ward Committee post

Davis vs. Graham - it's on

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By ELLYN FORTINO

It's Graham versus Davis for the 29th Ward committeemen post.

Ald. Deborah Graham (29th) officially kicked off her campaign for 29th Ward committeeman earlier this month. Graham, who's the current committeeman, is being challenged by U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (7th), who's held the post previously. In his official press announcement from Jan. 14, Davis said he was running for committeeman to "wrest some political power from the heavy hitters in Chicago politics." Davis was alderman of the 29th Ward from 1979 to 1990, and has served in the U.S. Congress since 1997.

But during Graham's campaign address on Feb. 4, she questioned Davis' intentions for running for such a local position.

"Tell me why you need to be committeeman when you are a U.S. congressman?" she said to a packed room of supporters at her campaign headquarters, 5753 W. Chicago Ave. "...You have a congressional seat that gives you leverage to talk to mayors. You don't need to be a committeeman. Do your job in Congress."

Graham said as committeeman, she will be in the community every day "on the ground working with our constituents," unlike Davis who spends much time on Capitol Hill.

"You can't run the committeeman seat from Washington. You have to be on the ground here in the community," Graham said, advising Davis to help Austin from his Washington, D.C., position. "Go take care of the speaker of the House in Washington ... bring us back some resources we need in the community for economic development, for jobs we need to put people back to work here."

Graham has been endorsed by the likes of state Sen. Don Harmon (39th), who represents Oak Park and parts of Austin.

"This race is about a new way of doing things versus the old way of doing things," Harmon said. "It's about moving forward, not looking backward."

The alderman said she stands ready and committed to challenge anyone who questions if she's the best candidate for the position. The committeeman is an unpaid position. The job includes sitting on the slating committee for local judges and state legislative positions, among others. Committeemen also distribute the ward's coffer money, which totaled nearly $30,000 in 2011, with more than $9,000 remaining at the end of the year, according to election records from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

"This is a volunteer job ... this is hard work, but it's important work," Harmon said.

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