After learning late in the game that his campaign rally was supposed to be held at a bar in Forest Park, then-Congressional candidate Anthony Clark cancelled the rally, saying he didn’t want his campaign to be associated in any way with the divisive debate over video gaming in Forest Park.
“As an individual who believes in putting people first and valuing what the community has to say, and having some understanding of the video gaming issue, at the end of the day I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to hold a campaign event at a local bar in Forest Park,” Clark said.
Three days before the event was scheduled to be held on March 15 at Murphy’s Pub, 7414 Madison St., Clark issued a statement on Facebook, saying that volunteers planned the rally at Murphy’s, but he hadn’t known about the talk’s location and, given his belief in fairness and democracy, he could not in good faith hold any event in Forest Park because he did not believe the volunteers of Let Forest Park Vote on Video Gaming were given a fair shake by the local electoral board, which ruled in January to deny the group’s effort to include a binding referendum related to video gaming on an upcoming election ballot.
“I’m not in this for the votes; I don’t take a stance because I think it will make people vote for me. I just don’t believe the democratic process took place” in regards to video gaming in Forest Park, Clark said, later adding: “I’ll always love Forest Park. Of course, we’ve had an interesting relationship, but I am who I am, I take stances, and I believe in supporting communities.”
Matt Mathey, owner of Murphy’s, said Clark’s Facebook post was the first he’d heard about cancelling the event. Mathey said all the proceeds from the event were going to be donated to Clark’s campaign. He had planned on offering pizza and the first round of drinks free to attendees and even planned a Guinness glass engraving event after Clark’s talk, where attendees could get their name inscribed on the Irish beer’s signature cup.
“I’m more disappointed; I thought he was running for a good campaign, trying to get stuff done. He seemed like a good dude to me and then this happens; it’s kind of shocking,” Mathey said.
Before the event, he had asked Chris Harris, a former Forest Park commissioner and mayoral candidate who is volunteering on Clark’s campaign, about where Clark stood on video gaming. Harris told him Clark didn’t have a position.
“I’m kind of confused; he’s running for Congress, not Forest Park commissioner. Is this a congressional problem, having video gaming, which is legal in Illinois?” Mathey asked, later adding: “It just looks to me like political grandstanding.”