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.