Malcolm X College is often the center of community activities, designed to address the needs of citizens. Last Saturday was no exception as Congressman Danny Davis (D-7th) held his annual State of the District Town Hall Meeting.

Workshops included job training, job placement, social services, child support and veterans issues. But the most important topic of the day was President Obama’s health care reform effort.

Before the town hall meeting, Davis told Austin Weekly News, “Anytime the Malcolm X auditorium is filled with people on a Saturday morning, standing room only, means that people are interested, engaged and excited about their potential. Some people obviously come to see that they can get information; others come to give information. Others come to find out how they can be more effective in doing what they do. So we think this state of the district is going extremely well.”

How concerned are people about health care?

“It is a big issue,” Davis said. “They are motivated, they are stimulated and I’m just pleased to see that people are involved. We are not giving up. We may give out before we give up. But in spite of people thinking there’s something nefarious [going on] we still believe Americans deserve the best in health care and not only those with the most money, but those also with little money. We’re going to keep that fight up until we win it.”

Davis said meetings in Illinois have not been as tumultuous as elsewhere. “We’ve had the meetings; they just weren’t disruptive,” he said. “Illinois, no matter what part of it, is a pretty progressive state in terms of people being able to come out and express themselves. I never had any fear that we would have any disruptions today or anything like that. People are able to have civil discourse and sometimes they agree and sometimes they don’t. They move ahead. Plus Illinois has one of most congenial congressional delegations in America.”

During the health care discussion on Saturday, participants told Davis what concerns they wanted him to take back to Washington.

A cardiologist said, “The problem is the general lack of trust in our government officials to trim expenses and use our taxes responsibly. Before you burden the taxpayers with additional taxes, I would like to see you save those costs first and show us that you deserve our tax dollars. I have a three-page calculated formula I would like to see our representative look over.”

Oak Park resident Pat Cooley stated, “I support single payer all the way. I don’t understand the public option that seems to be with the bad conduct of the health care insurance industry. That public option is going to leave the foxes in the hen house. Is anybody ever heard of infectious diseases? I think if we don’t cover them, we’re being penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

Another Oak Parker, who owns a small shop, said she has worked hard since she was 16 years of age. However, she does not have health care.

A young woman who said she prefers the word people-tics rather than politics, observed, “I want to see more money going into the health care field. Don’t tell me you’re going to give me health care and don’t have the resources to back it up. It makes no sense. Who is going to support me or who is going to see me if there are no doctors available?”

Cerebral palsy patient Susan Aarup said she was representing herself and was only one of many persons with disabilities who want their voices heard regarding needed health care reform.