Running for: Illinois 7th Congressional District, Federal House of Representatives
Political/civic background: I am an Air Force veteran, teacher, non-profit owner and community organizer. I never had any desire to be a politician until I was nominated by my community is 2017 to run for Congress on the progressive slates of Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats. Despite the loss to incumbent Danny Davis in 2018, our campaign was able to take almost 30% of the vote and push the overton window in a progressive direction within the 7th Congressional District which has inspired us to run again.
Occupation: Teacher at Oak Park River Forest High School
Education: PhD, Non-Profit/Public/Organizational Management, Concordia University at Chicago, 2015-2017
MEd, Educational Leadership/General Administration, Roosevelt University, 2012-2014
Master’s, Special Education and Teaching, National Louis University, 2009-2011
Master’s, Criminal Justice/Police Science, University of Phoenix, 2008-2009
Bachelor’s, Communications, Pacific Lutheran University, 2004-2008
Campaign website: voteanthonyclark.com
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing their districts, the state of Illinois and the country. Anthony Clark submitted the following responses:
Please tell us about your civic work in the last two years, whether it’s legislation you have sponsored or other paid or volunteer work to improve your community.
My organization helped lead & collaborate on multiple policy efforts including: passage of the Welcoming Village Ordinance in Oak Park, Il in 2017, passage of Indeginous Peoples Day in Oak Park, IL, creation and implementation of a new Sexual Assault Policy at the District 200 level, creation and implementation of a new Racial Equity Policy & Director Position at the District 200 level, fighting for lifting the ban on rent control, legalization of cannabis at a federal level with focus on racial justice, passage of $15 dollar mininum wage in Oak Park, IL, approval of cannabis sales in Oak Park, IL, & working to create police reform.
I also volunteered & supported several successful city council campaigns within the Chicago area including: Byron Lopez, Andre Vasquez, & Matt Martin.
In regards to civic engagement, my organization helped lead & collaborate on multiple efforts including: paying for medical, college, housing, & credit card debts of community members, supporting homeless community members with food, housing, & shelter, supporting survivors of sex trafficking via a fundrasier & community outreach, being trained on & filling out DACA renewal applications for Dreamer community members, supporitng small businesses in need, helping to save Fred Hampton’s childhood home from foreclosure, paying for multiple funerals & reward funds for slain teens, raising awareness in regard to the interconnected pervasive issues that lead to gun violence, raising awareness on the importance of medical cannabis, as well as working with community, instituions, & neighbors to address issues of racism & bigotry.
What are your views on the decision by the U.S. House to impeach President Donald Trump? Has the impeachment process been fair or not? How so? If, in your view, the president should not have been impeached, would you have supported censure? Please explain.
I would like to start of by stating that Trump is a symptom. He is not the root cause of the systemic issues we face as a society.
President Trump’s actions absolutely provided grounds for impeachment. I would have voted yes were I able to. The issue is not about the process (of course it was “fair”), it’s the strategy pursued by the Democratic party that left a lot of opportunity on the table. For starters, pursuing the impeachment of a president is never a desirable process and it is also one that, even if successful, may not accomplish the required result. Although there is more than one hole in this impeachment process, what we find most intolerable is that the Democrats did not fight to have him impeached under a violation of human rights. Trump’s past and present actions are nothing short of deplorable and worthy of impeachment. However, we are concerned that the lack of ideological alignment between the House and the Senate may result in a strengthening of Trump’s base and therefore provide him with a push into a second term.
How would you reduce the federal budget deficit, which now stands at about $1 trillion for 2020? What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
No one should be too poor to live. Decommodifying basic necessities (healthcare, housing, utilities) should take precedence over the deficit. Those wondering “how will we pay for it?” should spend more time concerning themselves with the unacceptable racial wealth divide in this country, or the fact that three individuals now have more wealth the the bottom 50% of America combined, instead of how we pay for programs that are critical to human flourishing.
Where there is a concentration of wealth there is a concentration of power. Under that logic, no one should have a billion dollars. The U.S.Tax Code should reflect this. For that reason, I support not only a repeal of Trump’s tax cuts which were designed to distribute wealth upward to the rich, but also the institution of a wealth tax.
What changes would you like to see made to our nation’s healthcare system? Would you shore up the Affordable Care Act or work to repeal it in full? What’s your view on Medicare for All? And what should be done, if anything, to bring down the cost of prescription drugs?
Yes. I believe healthcare is a human right and fully support Medicare for All. The private healthcare industry is an unnecessary middle man that rakes in billions of dollars in profits each year while hundreds of thousands of Americans go through medical bankruptcies. No one should go bankrupt because they need a medical procedure. Under a true single payer system, the American people would save money by expanding the risk pool & eliminating the administrative overhead which drives up the cost of coverage. Medicare for All to me means a single health insurance program, free at the point of use--no copays, premiums, deductibles--that covers all aspects of healthcare requiring a medical professional, including hearing, vision, dental, mental health, and long-term care.
Our campaign fully supports Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All policy as well as his plans to lower the price of prescription drugs by enacting the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices and well as enacting the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, which would allow patients and pharmacists to purchase prescription drugs from outside of the country. Finally, we support the enactment of the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act which would cut prescription drug prices in half by basing prices on the median prices of five major countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan.
The Trump administration is awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court as to whether it can end the DACA program — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — which shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Do you support or oppose DACA and why? Should a path to citizenship be created for the so-called DREAMers? Please explain.
I reject the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA and support not only its existence but its expansion. Our campaign is in strong support of creating a path to citizenship for DREAMers through the expansion of DACA, the decriminalization of border-crossing, and the abolition of ICE.
What are the three most important issues in your district on which the federal government can and should act?
I decided to run for congress because I know the issues plaguing my district are deeply rooted & systemic, and must be addressed at a national level. In IL-7, the unemployment rate is over two times the national level, and is a food desert. In addition, high levels of gun violence, not to mention non-stop persistent divestment, has led to the district leading the state in outward migration. Constituents in the 7th are clamoring for an end to gun violence, for criminal justice system reform, and community policing. What they’re also waiting for is a candidate who finally acknowledges the devastation brought upon them by austerity. What they want is a candidate who has real plans for job creation, investment in education, infrastructure investment. What the district needs to increase its voter turnout is a candidate bold enough to promise to tax the rich, and who will fight for healthcare and housing to all as a human right.
Congressional leaders must be able to walk and chew gum at the same time - by that, I mean that we must be able to focus on more than three issues at a time. All of the issues I’ve described are intertwined and have plunged my district into an existential crisis. It’s time for Congress to take action on that basis.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent(s)?
Danny Davis and I do have some significant differences. For example, our views on ICE. Given that, as overseen by the Trump administration, ICE operates with virtually no accountability, ripping apart families and holding our friends and neighbors indefinitely in inhumane detention centers, I believe that if we are to uphold civic justice, we must abolish ICE. By contrast, just a few days ago (12/17), Danny voted yes on the Congressional budget which includes significant funding for ICE. Our campaign in 2018 was able to push Danny into supporting the legalization of marijuana, but only begrudgingly and on a state level. I strongly support the legalization of marijuana at the federal level. In addition, what Danny’s missing, is what I will fight for, legalization of marijuana with a focus on racial justice, to make sure inequities caused by our racist war on drugs are addressed.
But our biggest difference is our view on corporate America.While Danny happily accepts donations from corporate donors, I do not. I believe we must fight white supremacy and inequality at their root causes. As Fred Hampton said, you can’t fight capitalism with capitalism.
What action should Congress take, if any, to reduce gun violence?
Common sense gun control and an assault weapons ban are extremely important issues for me. In 2007, I was a direct victim of gun violence and in my nine years of teaching, I have lost several students to gun violence. Gun violence is a pervasive issue that terrorizes children and families on a daily basis and annually more than 15,000 Americans die due to gun violence, excluding suicides. While gun violence often goes ignored in Black, Brown, and poor communities, politicians paying attention to mass shootings simply send thoughts and prayers. Instead of fighting to save American lives, politicians bend over backwards to protect the billionaire-backed gun lobby and propose measures that would actually increase gun sales, such as the incredulous proposal to arm teachers. Illinois is a state with extremely stringent gun laws, yet gun crimes continue to plague communities like Chicago. This is because the issue of gun violence is an interconnected issue that requires interconnected solutions. Racial segregation, wealth inequality, gangs and the inability of law enforcement to solve crimes have fueled the gun violence epidemic — and a handful of minority, impoverished neighborhoods, many in the 7th congressional district have received the brunt of the impact. Gun violence must be recognized as a public health issue. It will take a comprehensive public health approach to addressing this growing crisis to ensure our families and communities are safe. We must place a renewed emphasis on improving gun injury and violence research.
Congress must take the following actions:
- Repeal the Dickey Amendment which stopped research into gun violence because it prohibited funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be used to advocate or promote gun control.
- Ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and ensure the ban on bump stocks prevents illegal manufacture, trade, and sales.
- Require domestic abusers and stalkers to surrender their firearms.
- Mandate universal and improved background checks for firearm purchases.
- Prohibited Congresspeople, including candidates, from taking money from the gun lobby or private equity companies that invest in the firearms industry.
- Promote that concept that nothing stops a bullet like opportunity. If we want to truly address gun violence, we also must provide greater investment in our communities which leads to greater opportunities for community members. Community policing, case management, community centers, public school investment, mental health support, living wages, job creation, and employment counseling all lead to greater legal pathways to individuals supporting themselves and their families.
Is climate change real? Is it significantly man-made? Is it a threat to humankind? What if anything should Congress and the federal government do about it?
I fully believe in the reality and imminent danger of climate change and believe it is a phenomenon that has been perpetuated by the carelessness and refusal to put people and the environment before profit. This campaign is committed to the Green New Deal - a program to build a sustainable green-energy infrastructure that will generate millions of jobs. This campaign supports transitioning the United States to a carbon-free, 100% renewable energy system and a fully modernized electrical grid by 2035. I believe renewable fuels must be produced in a way that achieves our environmental and energy security goals, so we can move beyond oil responsibly in the fight against climate change. By encouraging the electrification of vehicles, sustainable home heating, distributed rooftop solar generation, and the conversion of the power grid to zero-emissions energy sources, I believe we can be 100% free of fossil fuels by 2035. I recognize the importance of approaching climate change as an issue of race and poverty as well. The negative effects of climate change are primarily felt in communities of color and high poverty rates. People living in these communities are more likely to be exposed to industrial pollution. Chicagoans in minority neighborhoods on the West Side and South Side have the greatest exposure to toxic air pollution and other environmental health hazards in the city according to recent studies.
What should Congress do to ensure the solvency of Social Security and Medicare?
I support adoption of the Social Security Expansion Act proposed by Bernie Sanders. This legislation would both provide a badly needed increase in Social Security benefits and extend the solvency of Social Security. The lowest Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) factor in the benefit formula would increase from 90 percent of a worker’s first $11,000 of average income (roughly) to 105 percent by 2040 – increasing benefits for most workers by about $2,200 per year in 2040 (the increase would be about $1,000 per year if in place today), and among other things adopt a faster-growing cost-of living adjustment for benefits, and create a minimum benefit of 125% of the poverty line for people who have worked 30 years or more. Among other things, this would be accomplished by increasing the level of income on which the current 12.9 percent payroll tax is applied and applying a new 6.2% tax on net investment income and most business income in excess of $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly.
Any solution for solvency for Medicare should include the expansion to Medicare for all. I support Bernie Sanders’ options for paying for Medicare for all which would include a tax increase. But, because people will pay $0 in premiums, $0 in co-pays and $0 in co-insurance for their health care most people will be in a better financial position even with the tax increase and won’t have to worry about large medical bills, medical related bankruptcies or choosing between food or expensive prescription drugs.
What should Congress do to address the student loan crisis? Would you use the word “crisis”?
Yes, student debt is most definitely a crisis! In addition to the obvious short-term financial impact on the ability of students to cover their basic living expenses while in college and for years after, student debt perpetuates the racial wealth gap, has a stifling effect on the ability of young people to have any kind of financial security (let alone the flexibility to buy a house, start a family, start a business or save for retirement). For that reason, student debt is a large contributor to the gross inequality in America and Congress must adopt a policy of debt cancellation. It may seem expensive but it would actually boost real GDP by an average of $86 billion to $108 billion per year. Over the 10-year forecast, the policy generates between $861 billion and $1,083 billion in real GDP (2016 dollars).
What should our nation’s relationship be with Russia?
I support ending all wars and believe strongly in diplomacy. For that reason, I believe our relationship with Russia should be open. But I also believe we must hold all nations, including Russia and Saudi Arabia accountable for human rights violations and military aggression.
What’s your view on the use of tariffs in international commerce? Has President Trump imposed tariffs properly and effectively? Please explain.
Regardless of what Trump and the republicans believe, the world is a global community. To think otherwise is like believing you can actually have a smoking section in an airplane. The U.S. must engage in a trade policy focused on strengthening workers’ rights, and protecting the environment from wonton abuse by multinational corporations. Tariffs should be used only when the effects on U.S. farmers and workers is outweighed by the advantage (e.g. the need for an immediate penalty for human rights violations) which requires measured thoughtful action.
Does the United States have a responsibility to promote democracy in other countries? Please explain.
“Promotion of democracy” is rhetoric the U.S. has used to intervene in the politics of other countries for its own benefit. Our continued insistence on regime change in Venezuela (not to mention obvious involvement in the recent coup in Bolivia) is a good example. Instead of stifling their movements, the U. S. should support progressive leaders like Lula De Silva, Brazil’s popular former president who was recently jailed under dubious pretenses to prevent his contention for president, and Andrés Manuel López Obrado, the president of Mexico.
What should Congress do to limit the proliferation of nuclear arms?
Congress should pass legislation codifying the policy of the U.S. that it will not use nuclear weapons first. However, this legislation must also have teeth - for example, it should include provisions requiring the U.S. to work toward the elimination of the nuclear weapons arsenals of countries around the world, starting in the U.S. with at least a prohibition on the acquisition of new nuclear weapons. In addition, at a minimum, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty should not be allowed to expire on February 5, 2021 and ideally, a new more aggressive treaty should be negotiated to address the reduction of the nuclear weapons of Russia and the U.S. The U.S. should immediately re-open negotiations with Iran with the goal of rejoining the Iran nuclear deal and, to the extent possible, with North Korea.
Please list all relatives on public or campaign payrolls and their jobs on those payrolls.
There are currently zero relatives on our campaign payroll.
What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.
Fred Hampton is an individual who continues to play an integral role in my life. Fred’s ideologies helped shape my work as a teacher, nonprofit leader, activist, & political candidate.
Fred taught that the root cause issues we face are at a class level. The economic divide exists between the 1% and the 99%, because capitalism supported by oppressive ‘isms such as racism, sexism, ableism, demands a top and a bottom class.
While bringing our identities to the table and continuing to fight for empowerment, coming together within a class war as the oppressed, creates a fight within the struggle that can systematically change our economic outcomes, placing power and ownership in the hands of the people.
We are in a class struggle and that is what I teach and communicate on a daily basis.
What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?
There are numerous shows to choose from, but my favorite show of all time would have to be Martin.
Every week, my family and friends would look forward to a show with a combination of outlandish slapstick comedy and nuanced exploration of the friendship among its Black main characters.
Martin was an escape for me. It seemed real and not formulaic in the way characters and their relationships were presented. No matter the pain felt as a Black teenager or as a Black family living in the struggle, Martin provided an escape that allowed us to heal and bond through comedy.
To this day, quotes from the show, as well as characters still provide an avenue for the Black community to bond and heal.
Martin was my favorite escape from the struggle as a youth.