Candidates eye Congressional seat a month before midterms

By Blaise Mesa

Only a month away from the midterm elections, candidates for the 7th Congressional District prepare for the final vote.

Incumbent Danny Davis was first elected as a Congressmen in the 7th District in 1996, and has been re-elected 10 times. He is opposed by Craig Cameron, the Republican candidate.

The 7th Congressional District reaches as far west as Bellwood, as south as West Englewood and as north as the Loop and Magnificent Mile.

Davis said a core issue of his campaign is his success in criminal justice reform, including the success of the Second Chance Act, which helps individuals reintegrate after prison.

“If they managed to get a good job, many of them would never see the insides of a prison again,” Davis said.

Cameron said reworking the tax system in Chicago is an issue he would like to address if elected.

“We need to help out some of the communities that are getting left behind,” Cameron said. “The city is changing, and there are certain neighborhoods you drive through, and nothing is being done. Businesses are dying; people are losing their homes.”

Cameron said he would push for tax-free zones which would encourage businesses to move into certain parts of town for tax credits.

Davis said he has served for approximately 39 years and is well versed on the problems that face the 7th District as well as how to fix them.

“My experiences, my knowledge [and] my interaction with my constituents would say to me that I am in a better position to represent them than my opponent would be,” Davis said. “You need to know the [process] to try and make laws. I know how to get laws passed.”

Cameron said his youth makes him a good candidate.

“[Davis] has been in office a long time,” he said. “Chicago needs change. We need new blood in Chicago for Congress.”

Cameron works as a construction project manager.  He said his experience managing big projects, large amounts of people and money have prepared him for Congress.

Senior marketing major Jessica Plocinik said she hopes candidates plan to address student debt, which is a major issue for her.

“There are a lot of colleges in this area,” she said. “Finding ways to help people pay for school or reduce the cost after you graduate [is important to me].”

If elected, Cameron said he would work toward lower interest rates and debt forgiveness plans to help students pay off their loans.

Davis, who has successfully introduced legislation before, is the co-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’s Education and Labor Task Force, and works with multiple scholarship programs, he said.

“We consistently are engaged and look at what is needed to try and lower the cost of higher education,” Davis said. “There are so many students who don’t have the basic necessities of life.”

Plocinik also said safety and limiting access to weapons is another important issue  in the midterms.

Davis said addressing gun violence in the city requires a two-fold approach, which involves tackling poverty and improving education.

Davis was a co-sponsor on the Higher Education Opportunity Act in 2008. He has worked with legislation to provide funding that went to schools, such as Malcolm X College, Kennedy-King College, Chicago State University, Robert Morris University and East-West University.

To address gun violence, Cameron said there should be more funding for police officers and more officers on the street. However, Cameron said he would push for increased police visibility by having more officers engage with their communities.

“We need neighborhood beat cops walking on the street,” Cameron said. “Not driving around [in] their police cars.”

To address educational barriers in the city, Cameron said he would like to have more trade school options available to students who may struggle in typical school settings, along with introducing more after-school programs to keep youth off the streets.

“We are all young students walking [around] campus. We all go to classes early in the morning or late at night,” Plocinik said. “Making sure everyone is as safe as possible [is important].”