Five candidates are seeking the Illinois Green Party nomination to run in the special election to replace Rahm Emanuel in the US House in District 5. There will be a primary on March 3rd for the Green Party, the Democrats and the Republicans. The winners of the three primaries will face off in an April 7 Special Election.
We’ve asked the five candidates on the Green Party primary ballot to tell us a little bit about who they are, what they are running for, and why you should support them. We will post the replies from each as we get them.
Here is Alan Augustson:
Green Party Watch: Tell us a little bit about who you are.
Alan Augustson: I’ve been a firefighter, a radio announcer, a computer scientist and a United States Marine. My wife and I came to Chicago in 2000 so I could finish my education at the University of Chicago. My goal was the same then as it is now: to do the greatest possible good.
Since then I’ve worked in social science research, policy analysis, public-sector management consulting, and healthcare advocacy. Probably my best work was done in Washington, on-contract to FEMA during the Katrina Catastrophe. Although none of my recommendations were listened to by the Cabinet, at least someone in the hierarchy was pushing for the rights and security of the victims of that tragedy.
GPW: What made you decide to jump into this race? What are the top 2 or 3 issues that you want to bring to the table?
AA: I felt compelled to enter the 2008 race against Rahm Emanuel because, at the time, he was unopposed. No Democratic opposition was surfacing, and not even any Greens were taking him on. This was unacceptable, given his atrocious voting record. Rahm didn’t know and didn’t care about the people of his district — he was too busy grooming himself for the next level.
My top three issues stem from a need to ensure the survival of humankind, as global warming advances and resources continue to deplete. If we want Chicagoland to remain a thriving community, there are three things we must accomplish to start with: we need better, faster and more extensive mass transit. We need real sustainable energy — massive windfarms and solar collectors, plus proper incentives for single-family homeowners to install these on their own homes. And we absolutely have to have universal healthcare. More employers are dumping their coverage every day. If we don’t guarantee healthcare for all, then the entire health sector — the largest non-government employment sector in Illinois — will go down the tubes.
GPW: What differentiates the “Green Party candidate” from the Republicans or Democrats? Why the Green Party?
AA: To me, the only difference between Democrats and Republicans is the audience — the people to whom they lie. Neither is interested in the will, the rights or the needs of the people. Nowhere is this more true than in Chicago and Cook County, where the voter’s choices are limited to coat-tail relatives and business partners of the Daleys.
There may be some actual progressives in the Democratic primary, but rest assured, none of these will survive the primary process. The Patronage Army will see to that. The winner will be he who has kissed the rings, made the promises, and sold himself to the Party power structure.
The Greens are the only alternative. Vote Green, or watch as another Democratic Party hack rises — a walking scandal waiting to happen. Those are the choices.
(And the Republicans? In Cook County, any Republican contender is just as likely to be a shill, hand-picked by the Democrats to tank the election.)
GPW: A Green Party primary is exciting, but quite rare. Are there any benefits from a Green Party primary? Any downsides?
AA: The pros: the eventual winner will have the most well-defined, clear and succinct set of policy positions ever — these will have been refined and tested through constructive discussion and healthy debate.
The cons: setting the bar so low (30 signatures) to get onto the ballot, invites every kook in Northern Illinois to launch his vanity candidacy, good for nothing but to distract the little media attention we’re able to get for a pathetic sideshow. Furthermore, it invites those people who have no interests or values in common with the Green Party — candidates flying a “flag of convenience”.
GPW: What is your campaign going to do to have the biggest impact on this race?
AA: In 2008, my biggest mistake was in believing that the race would go to the best candidate. I was wrong — the race goes to the best campaigner. I must do a better job of outreach, to include proper and aggressive fundraising.
GPW: What else do you want Green Party voters and 5th District voters to know about you, what you stand for, and why they should vote for you?
AA: I am the candidate with the skill set, the mind set, and the political will to actually win a major election — and to endure the hardship that a new party will face in Washington.
Some may point to my 4-5% showing in 2008 and laugh. But let me point out: Those who voted for Rahm Emanuel, were in fact voting for Barack Obama. Those who voted for Tom Hanson, were voting against Barack Obama. Those who voted for me, were voting for me.
In April, the Barack-versus-Not-Barack Show will not be around to distract the voters. Candidates will have to stand on their qualifications and their positions. The casual voters and the bandwagon voters won’t turn out. Those voters who know who and what they’re getting, who know what the issues really are, will vote Alan Augustson. Be ready for a world-shaking surprise.
GPW: And finally, thank you very much for running on the Green Party ticket!
AA: Thank YOU, for this opportunity to participate.