Local Democrats scramble to put together rally; ‘We’re just trying to let people know there are alternatives’

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Local Democrats cheer during the "Democrats for Democracy" rally held Saturday afternoon at Clat Adams Park in Quincy. | Photo for Muddy River News by Lisa Wigoda

QUINCY — The Adams County Democrats felt they had to respond to former President Donald Trump’s visit to the Adams County Fairgrounds in Mendon on Saturday night. 

There was one issue according to Kate Daniels, candidate for Illinois 15th District State Central Committee and chair of the Adams County Democratic Party.

“(Trump) kind of has a habit of not always showing up when he’s started something,” she said. “So we weren’t sure if he would make it.”

Once Trump’s trip was confirmed, the local Democrats got to work. 

A “Democrats for Democracy” rally was held Saturday afternoon at Clat Adams Park. A crowd of around 65 people heard from Daniels; Macy Ferguson-Smith, a licensed clinical social worker from Quincy Medical Group; and Bill Houlihan, the chair of the Sangamon County Democratic party. 

“Is it a direct response (to Trump’s rally)? Sure,” Daniels said. “We’re just trying to let people know there are alternatives to Mary Miller (who is running in the Republican primary against Rodney Davis in the 15th Congressional District). There are alternatives to the Republicans who are being put forward. We’re here to let people know that the Adams County Democratic party exists, that we are proud of who we are. We are proud of our principles. We are proud of the work that we’re doing.”

The headline speaker was U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Underwood from the 14th District, which sits in the western suburbs of Chicago. Underwood served in the Obama administration in the Department of Health and Human Services. She’s a registered nurse and holds two master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University. 

After winning her seat, she became the youngest Black woman to serve in Congress. She authored four bills that became law during her first term.

When asked to come to Quincy, she didn’t hesitate. 

“When we have a former president in town, we want the Democrats to also be energized, fired up and ready to go,” Underwood said. “I’m here to talk to Democrats about what’s going on in our country.”

When asked about President Joe Biden’s approval ratings, the Naperville native spoke of the success of the Democratic-led congress. 

“We are at a point where we have come out of two years of a horrific pandemic,” Underwood said. “When we started making progress at the rate that we did in 2021, we got 6.6 million jobs created in a year while dropping the unemployment rate, making sure that the American people had opportunity at every turn, supporting small towns like Quincy and towns in my district, and getting these resources to be able to bounce back from the pandemic.

“So it’s up to us Democrats in our area to tell that story.”

Underwood, who in 2019 was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Next list, was in the Capitol building during the Jan. 6th attack. She hopes Americans pay close attention to the hearings. 

“The American people can clearly understand not only what happened but how it is impacting their lives, the health of our democracy and the future of our country,” she said. “We all have a decision to make, and that decision is: Are we going to re-elect these individuals who participated in an attempt to overthrow our government?”

Underwood says the country is divided. She believes the solution is simple … communication.

“Neighbors talking to neighbors,” she said. “(People) feel like they’ve been forgotten, that their town doesn’t matter, their family doesn’t matter. They don’t see it reflected in what’s going on in Washington or in the conversations that policymakers are having. And so I represent a lot of towns just like this one, and I know how important showing up is. That’s how we break the divide.” 

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