Tom Day | File

Last month in Austin Weekly News, Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th) went on the attack against me ahead of our March 15 primary contest for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the 7th Congressional District. He said that in Chicago elections, “you’ve got to be known” to win. Well, it’s true, I haven’t been in Chicago politics since the 1970s. In fact, I haven’t been alive since the 1970s.

Congressman Davis believes in the status quo. He believes that in Chicago politics, you work within the system, and you wait your turn. Until the time comes when an elected official, no matter how ineffective, is ready to step aside, the best you can do is work for an elected official’s staff. No one, absolutely no one, dare challenge an incumbent in this system, as Congressman Davis sees it.

Elections are lifetime appointments. That’s the system. The problem is, the system isn’t working.

I didn’t enter this campaign to work within the system, and Congressman Davis has had his time. Time is up. I entered this campaign because this district has three times the unemployment rate as the national average, and Congressman Davis hasn’t done a thing to help. He misses three times more votes than your average congressman. While Congressman Davis takes lavish trips overseas to places like Azerbaijan, this district is falling apart.

Congressman Davis correctly notes that members of Congress “legislate, we appropriate, and we investigate.” Yet Congressman Davis hasn’t authored a bill that became law since George Bush was in office. What has been appropriated hasn’t come to the 7th District; after President Obama’s first two years in office, this district ranked in the bottom 15 percent of federal dollars brought back home.

And when the Neighborhood Stabilization Program failed to deliver on the promise of stabilizing the housing market in the neighborhoods hardest hit by the housing crisis, Congressman Davis simply walked away. I have had community leaders all over this district tell me about dollars wasted under the NSP program, yet Congressman Davis has not called for an investigation to find out where the money went. I will.

A few weeks ago Congressman Davis stood beside Mayor Emanuel and announced a grant under the Second Chance Act to provide work for ex-offenders to clean up CTA buses and trains. Congressman Davis should be proud of his work with the Second Chance Act, but a real second chance is a career, a prosperous career.

That’s why I want to provide ex-offenders opportunities to enter job training programs in manufacturing and other technical skills, and provide them certifications so that they can compete for jobs that can get them back on their feet. When I left the military, I had a wealth of options like “Troops to Teachers” and JP Morgan’s “100,000 Jobs for Veterans” that transition men on women from the military to civilian work.

While not equating those men and women who serve in the military to our ex-offenders, I do think we need to provide a similar set of options to those who are reentering society from the criminal justice system. 

Congressman Davis doubts that I can win on March 15 because, as he said, “you’ve got to be known.” Well, then let me take this opportunity to introduce myself: I’m Tom Day, and I’m a candidate for the 7th Congressional District.

— Tom Day is a candidate for 7th District U.S. Representative

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