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Randy Auxier

Auxier

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.

isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Franklin and Williamson counties.

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