Mike Bost says he is dedicated to continuing his fight for Southern Illinois and the people of the 12th Congressional District.
The current Republican incumbent of the district’s seat since 2014, and a 20-year veteran of the 115th District Illinois House of Representatives, Bost is facing Democratic challenger and Belleville attorney C.J. Baricevic, and Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw of Carbondale.
The voters in Southern Illinois are familiar with Bost, given his experience in politics in Southern Illinois. Plus, he was born and raised in Murphysboro. In fact, Bost said the only time he spent outside of Murphysboro was when he was in the Marine Corps. He graduated from Murphysboro High School in 1979, and was determined to run Bost Trucking Service, but was injured in a motorcycle accident in Carbondale, he said.
The decision to join the Marines came when he was healing from his accident, watching the 1979 Iran hostage crisis coverage on television. He said once he was healed, he enlisted in the military.
After boot camp, he married his wife, Tracy, and spent time in California as a radar repairman, and the couple had their first child. Then, he said they moved to Yuma, Arizona, and had their second child. Soon afterward, the couple came back to Murphysboro to run the family business.
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Bost said it wasn’t long after being home that he started to pay attention to local politics and wasn't excited about the way things were going. After much complaining from Bost, Tracy told him “to shut up, or get involved.”
“At the time, I didn’t know if I was a Republican or Democrat,” he said.
He spoke with a few people about what it meant to be affiliated with each party and was told if he wants to be elected in this region, he would have to identify as a Democrat. Not accepting that notion, he went to his father-in-law, who told him to actually research the platforms of each party. He read the platforms of Walter Mondale — Democratic vice president to President Jimmy Carter — and Republican President Ronald Reagan. After his research, he discovered he was Republican.
After being motivated to get involved, he attended a Lincoln Day Dinner at the Southern Illinois University ballroom and was asked to consider running for county board. Although he said he thought he was too young, he decided to give it shot, running against a long-time veteran of the board. He won in the primary through a write-in campaign because he registered too late to be on the ballot. He then went on to win the seat.
Bost was a member of the Jackson County Board from 1984 to 1988. He says he was asked to run for the Illinois House in ’88, but didn’t feel like he could win, so he declined. However, he was elected as Murphysboro’s City Treasurer and served from ’89 to ’92. He declined another run for the House in ’90, but finally did run in ’92. He won the primary, but lost in the general election.
In 1993, he was elected as a trustee for Murphysboro Township, while being a full-time firefighter in Murphysboro. In ’94, he was asked again to run for the House and won. It was a seat he would not relinquish for 20 years.
Bost did leave the state House in 2014 is because he decided to run for U.S. Congress. He won that 12th Congressional District seat, beating incumbent Bill Enyart.
Bost said Tuesday that he loves serving people. There are the victories of adding legislation, and the ability to award World War II medals to a veteran who never received the ones he earned, until Bost presented them to him last week. However, he noted there are still serious issues facing the district, and voters are frustrated.
“Whether it is Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, people are frustrated,” he said. “Trump is the nominee because people are frustrated.”
Employment for the district
Bost said there is an over-burdensome attack on coal that President Barack Obama has carried out, which Clinton wants to continue. Bost said he has to continue to fight to reduce regulations on the industry.
“Not to hurt the environment, but to allow us to compete in a worldwide market,” he said. “And, to make sure that electricity prices are kept at a level where new companies can work here.”
He said people need to understand that Southern Illinois is one of the places where coal can be burned the cleanest.
“I want our employees to be safe, and I want our environment to be protected, but I want our people to be working,” Bost said. “There has to be a balance, not a constant strangling of our own industries and omissions because other nations are eating our lunch.”
Controlling the borders
Bost said there has to be a logical way to deal with the nation’s borders. He said it is not to build a wall — as Trump has suggested — but borders should be secure.
“It is not that we want to discourage other people from coming in, but we want to have control of who is coming in so they can be vetted,” he said.
Bost said this is especially important while other parts of the world are facing serious problems. He said there has been language in Congress saying that if refugees are coming into the country, they must be vetted if they come.
“If they are not, then it is not safe for our children,” he said. “I don’t want to see children suffer the way they as refugees, but I am not going to sacrifice my children and allow someone involved with ISIS to come into our borders and blow up my children.”
“We have to figure out something and figure it quick,” Bost said when talking about the Affordable Care Act. “I don’t care who gets the credit.”
He said if insurance rates start to double as projected, that is not what the original intent of the law was supposed to do. He said that he didn’t like the law when it was first proposed, but it doesn’t do anybody any good to say “I told you so.”
He said the question is whether or not it is a correction of the current healthcare system, or getting rid of what we have and slowly shifting to another system.
Bost said it is also his mission to continue working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure it provides the services necessary to veterans that have been promised. He said that could mean making it possible for the VA to deal with issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and other issues that are unique to veterans.
“But if a veteran wants to go to a local doctor, we should let them,” he said.
Bost is also concerned with local transportation and infrastructure. He said he will continue to work on levees throughout the district.
He also said looking up and down the district, there are areas — such as Alton — where 12 barges can move through with product at a time, but just north of it, there is an area where only six can move through at a time.
“That bottlenecks them,” Bost said. “It is affecting world commerce and that is where the federal government needs to get involved.”
He said the country has to be able to move product from one place to another, but also needs to look into sensible trade options — not the Trans Pacific Partnership, commonly referred to as TPP.
“I don’t disagree with Trump when he says we have been losing in the deals, so let’s work to get the deals we can actually win,” Bost said. “Let’s come up with something that allows our markets to expand.”
Bost will face off against Bradshaw and Baricevic in a debate at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 at Lindenwood University in Belleville.
on twitter: @zd2000