You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
12th District Congressional Race
SIUC philosophy professor seeks Green Party nomination in 12th District representative race


MURPHYSBORO — Philosophy professor Randy Auxier is throwing his hat in the ring for next year’s 12th Congressional District race — he will be representing the Green Party, which he says has a unique advantage this cycle.

The party is more than Greenpeace and environmental issues, Auxier said, and he thinks after the politically divisive election last year — one of the most polarizing elections Auxier thinks America has had in recent history — he said his party has an opportunity to win over voters. 

“I believe that we have really frightened ourselves in regard to how low the bar has gone with civic discourse and just our willingness to talk across the lines of the two parties,” Auxier said. He believes that while many in the district, and in the country, have very established ideas of what red and blue candidates are, green may not be as firmly cemented in their minds.

Auxier said he has a “fair shot” of having an open-minded conversation because they haven’t made their minds up about his party affiliation.

Auxier said the Green Party straddles a line between conservative values — he sees merit in increasing local control of schools — as well as classically liberal ideas — he is a strong supporter of unions and labor issues — and also espouses progressive views including equal rights for those in LGBTQ and minority communities.

Auxier said in his eyes, there are three particular issues facing the 12th District — healthcare, transportation and education — and he said in his first six to 12 months in office he would do his best to lay the groundwork for big projects to give Southern Illinois a boost.

“We’ve got infrastructure problems in the 12th District that must be addressed,” Auxier said.

One way he would do this, he said, is by championing a light rail line between Alton and Marion, though he would like to see that extended into Benton and Mount Vernon, as well. He said he knows this is a big project, but he sees the region as ready for it, and would at least like to help build the foundation for the project during his term in office.

Auxier said he sees very little debate on the healthcare issue. It comes down to economics.

“I don’t see how that can be a partisan issue. It’s not a matter of entitlements. It’s not a matter of social programs. It’s a matter of having a competitive workforce,” Auxier said.

He said the U.S. is “badly outnumbered” by the workforces it competes with that offer better healthcare options for their citizens. Auxier said while the U.S. may not have the workforce numbers to compete, it certainly has production to stay in the fight — so long as the workers aren’t too sick to work.

“An unhealthy workforce is simply not competitive,” he said.

Auxier said he wants more decentralized control of education for the region and added that he is “a strong believer in localism.” He said it is difficult for a large federal body to understand how regions need to customize education.

“They will find me opposed to these one-sized programs and standards,” Auxier said of voters. He said giving teachers and schools the tools to adapt to their students’ needs is crucial.

“What helps is empowering local school districts,” he said.

Auxier’s run is not about his opponents — though he admits incumbent Mike Bost’s efforts to serve the district could be improved. Instead, he said it’s about establishing a brighter future for those in the region.

“It’s not just about partisan politics, it’s about having a future especially in the long term for our region and our country,” he said.

Voters will head to the polls in the general primary on March 20. The 12th District includes the counties of Alexander, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Monroe, Perry, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Clair, Union and Williamson, and part of Madison County.

Carbondale council approves rezoning request for old fire house

CARBONDALE — At Tuesday night's regular meeting, the city council approved an ordinance to rezone the former Fire Station #2 property on South Oakland Avenue from low-density residential to neighborhood business, paving the way for the establishment of a wood shop, tasting room and social space for artists at the site.

In September, the city’s sale of the property for $50,000 to John Deas and Alison Smith provoked an outcry from members of the Arbor District neighborhood, who objected to the selling price and the fact that the council settled on the proposal in executive session.

In addition to the rezoning, the council also adopted a resolution to approve a special-use permit to allow a “drinking place with alcoholic beverages” at the property. (Deas and Smith still must come before the Liquor Control Commission for approval of a liquor license.)

As dictated by the standards for neighborhood business district zoning, hours of operation at the property will be limited to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Mayor John “Mike” Henry asked the applicants whether they planned to have any live music or amplified sound in the beer garden. Deas and Smith said they had no interest in either and that the beer garden would simply be a space for conversation. 

Councilman Jeff Doherty asked what the applicants planned to do with the three large garage doors on the Oakland Street side of the building.

“We have entertained the idea of having maybe one of the doors open to have an open-air feel coming through, but we haven’t really decided exactly what to do with that wall. We’re really eager to just get in there and start planning,” Deas said.

Councilman Navreet Kang noted that the application does not satisfy all the criteria of the special use permit; the staff report says the use of the structure “may not be in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood.”

Development Services Director Chris Wallace said the criteria are merely recommendations for the council.

“Being that this is a neighborhood business district, this district is designed exactly for this purpose … to accommodate commercial buildings that are located in residential districts,” Wallace said.

“We’re trying to create something very different, something that hasn’t existed here before, so it’s difficult to hear little bits, like to hear there’s going to be a bar there — the connotation that most people get is something that already exists,” Deas said. “ … This being a neighborhood business, it’s a term that we really like, because we really want this to be a core unit of that neighborhood. We want it to increase the sense of community.”

He said they intend to create an environment where the focus is on the enjoyment and appreciation of alcohol, rather than simply on intoxication.

Kang said that when the liquor license application comes before the commission, he'll be opposed to placing the beer garden in the front of the property, where the firetrucks previously entered and exited the site. He said he had no problem with the interior use for the consumption of alcohol.

Councilman Adam Loos said he was in favor of the beer garden.

“We’re known for being very persnickety, and I wonder if that might be to our detriment,” Loos said. “When we have very strict and rigid rules, often rules that are hard to justify on any type of rational basis, that makes it difficult for people to do creative things, like these applicants are trying to do, so maybe we should try not to be so controlling, and just let people experiment, and sometimes fail.”

The ordinance and resolution were approved unanimously.