AUBURN GRESHAM – Recently retired Congressman Bobby Rush is backing his former staffer in a crowded race to succeed a longtime South Side alderman on the city council.
Rush endorsed Ayana Clark for Ward’s 21st seat on Monday. Rush confirmed her support for Clark in an interview with Block Club on Tuesday.
Clark he announced his candidacy for alderman in July. At the time Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st) said he intends to run for re-election for his sixth term on the City Council. He later announced that he would retire after nearly two decades at the helm of the department.
Clark has worked as a community advocate for Rush, building connections between Rush and residents to address issues facing the ward. She is currently the director of the Ready 2 Work program at the Hope Center Foundationa job training program for low-income youth.
“I’m calling Ayana, AC,” Rush told Block Club. “It’s not because it’s her initials. I nicknamed her AC because to me she is someone who can accomplish things. AC is short for accomplished. I have not met a more impressive, young and energetic person. I think you will be an elected official and an outstanding public servant.
Clark has worked with South Side organizations such as Moms in a hurry And HOOD Project. She is an alumnus of the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corp and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute.
She has also been endorsed by Run for Something, One Business Chicago and “Girl, I guess, Progressive Voters Guide”, according to the press release.
Clark faces six other challengers for the 21st Ward seat. Fourteen candidates entered the race, but half are off the ballot after withdrawing or being disqualified by election officials.
Election day is February 28. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote, the top two will go to a runoff on April 4.
Rush he retired last year after three decades in office. Rep. Jonathan Jackson, son of civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson and brother of disgraced former U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., won the seat for the 1st congressional district in November.
Rush will go to the pastor at the Beloved Community Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, he said.
“Ayana has overcome enormous odds,” Rush said. “She has excelled in everything she has attempted to do. She has served me exceptionally well when she was on my staff and she has an uncanny problem solving ability. I have come to rely on Ayana’s insight for the millennial generation and community compassion and awareness. She is a dedicated person.
After years of working alongside Rush and witnessing his impact on the community, Clark is honored and ready to follow in his footsteps, he said. If she elects her, she will be the first woman to hold the position and the first new ward alderman in 20 years.
“…My community is full of stories about how Congressman Rush changed lives,” Clark said. “He has always put the community first and, with his support, I will continue to do the same. The new 21st Ward needs leadership that is at the core of our community’s values. I am that leader.
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