Victor Swanson is running in the Democratic primaries against six other candidatesLauren Underwood, Daniel Roldan-Johnson, Matthew Brolley, George Weber, John Hosta and Jim Walz ( who ran in the 2016 general election against incumbent Rep. Randy Hultgren ). Swanson has been a high school Social Studies teacher ( U.S. Government and U.S. History ) for the past 17 years and is a U.S. Navy veteran.
Windy City Times: Why was the January 2017 inauguration and D.C. Women's March the next day significant toyour campaign?
Victor Swanson: I took nine students from my school to Washington, D.C. to what I thought was going to be an historic inauguration ceremony for the first woman president on Jan. 20, 2017. I am pretty sure the students signed up to go for that same reason. After the election, I was angry that I was going to see someone I completely disrespect and who does not deserve any elective office. We went anyway and it was very tense. One of the students was crying at the lack of decorum whenever a Democratic official was being introduced or speak. But, the next day we woke up and went to the Women's March and it was a completely different atmosphere. It was what democracy should be and going to the march is what spurred me to run for Congress. I came back and got involved with some groups that were looking for a candidate to run against rubber-stamp Randy Hultgren. I thought I had a chance to turn this red district blue so I threw my hat in the ring.
WCT: How would you approach the job differently than what the incumbent has done in the past? Will you hold regular town halls in the district?
VS: I would not work for corporations or financial institutions and instead advocate for the people in this district. All of his votes are based on where he gets his money. In the last election over 70 percent of his money came from financial institutions, insurance or pro-life PAC's. I would not work for those people and instead work for working class union members and the most vulnerable in society.
My background as a teacher pushed me into this race. Since I started teaching every school in this congressional district has doubled, if not tripled its low-income population and they have not doubled or tripled their resources to deal with that. I would work to help the low-income population get a leg up and succeed.
Yes, I would hold regular town halls because you have to listen to and speak to people about the issues. I want to get their input because I do not have all the answers.
WCT: What makes you stand out among the six other candidates in this race?
VS: Some of the other candidates are running because they are upset with Trump and Hultgren but I am running to make sure there is a brighter tomorrow for my students and every child in America.
WCT: Where do you fall on the spectrum politically? Would you say you are more of a centrist or to the far left or somewhere in-between?
VS: I am liberal and have held those beliefs my whole life. I also know the importance and value of compromise and would speak to the other side of the aisle to come to a solution on various issues.
WCT: What are the most important issues facing the country and how would you address them, if elected?
VS: Education is the number one issue in the country and so many problems can be solved if you have a proper education system for everyone. I would invest in universal pre-K, paid family and medical leave and subsidizing childcare for low-income workers. We need to not make money on student loans and allow them to refinance their loans. There also needs to be more loan forgiveness for specific professions that help others like teachers, nurses and doctors,
Our environment is a crucial aspect of our society and if we destroy it then it will never come back. We need to protect it and one way is to stop coal companies from being able to dump their pollutants into streams. It is also vital that we fund science so we can come up with solutions and educate people about climate change.
We need to raise taxes so the wealthy are taxed more, not the poor and middle-class. The estate tax should continue.
Net neutrality is vital for everyone and the FCC's recent ruling to roll back this regulation is wrong.
WCT: You are a Social Studies teacher who places a huge importance on civics. When do you think civics needs to be introduced and built upon in subsequent years? Why is learning about history important for everyone?
VS: My son is in third grade and we were at dinner a year ago and he asked me "Whatever happened to the Republicans?" I asked him what he was talking about and he said "They used to have Abraham Lincoln and now they have Donald Trump." I do not think any age is too early to start talking about making your community better and that includes kindergarten students. The earlier you teach kids about politics and voting the more active they become politically.
It is important to understand where we came from and the mistakes we have made so we can learn from them. There is a cycle in U.S. history of immigrants coming in and a backlash of nativism. Nativism has never been on the right side of history.
WCT: What, if any, interactions have you had with the LGBTQ community?
VS: There is a local United Church of Christ called the Congregational Church of Geneva that started a poster campaign called "Got Love" to support LGBTQ people and they have been vandalized and recently this group called Love Kills Pride has been protesting them in front of their church in Geneva, Illinois. Love does not kill anything and in fact it helps things grow.
I have gone to the church to try and stop the protestors from harassing the parishioners twice and I also picked up a "Got Love" sign to show my support at home.
I have also attended gay friends weddings.
WCT: What do you see are the most important issues or obstacles facing the LGBTQ community and how would you address them?
VS: I teach at Glenbard East and they are very accepting of the LGBTQ community and that includes having a GSA called PRISM. One of my students is transgender and went through the process of changing his name and no one had a problem with it but I know bullying is a real issue among LGBTQ youth. There are many people who do not understand the LGBTQ community. No matter who you are, love and acceptance are the most powerful things that can happen for a person.
We need to have a serious talk about the AIDS epidemic in the '80s that was laughed at by then-President Reagan. HIV/AIDS funding needs to continue.
WCT: If elected, will you co-sponsor the Equality Act?
WCT: What is your opinion on the SCOTUS Masterpiece Cakeshop case?
VS: I think it is discrimination for a place of business to refuse service to someone because they are LGBTQ. I hope the Supreme Court sides with the gay couple.
WCT: Where do you stand on transgender people in the military including providing full medical services for those troops?
VS: As a Navy veteran, I am in favor of anyone who wants to put their life on the line for this country to be able to serve openly and receive any medical care they need or want to be the person they are.
WCT: Will you join the LGBT Equality Caucus? What other caucuses are you looking to join?
VS: Yes and I would also want to join an education focused caucus and the baseball caucus.
WCT: Do you support strengthening the ACA with our current system in place or moving to a publicly funded system ( Medicare for All ) that eliminates private insurance companies?
VS: The GOP is trying to destroy the ACA and I do not think it is the be all end all for healthcare. It was never meant to be the final solution. If I could wake up tomorrow and we could have Medicare for All that would be great but I am also a realist so we have to first shore up the ACA and then move forward with universal healthcare.
WCT: What is your position on immigration writ large and DACA and the Dreamers, more specifically?
VS: Immigration and the differences everyone brings here is what makes our country great so we need to continue to welcome people from around the world to this country.
If I think about DACA and the DREAMers through a fiscally responsible lens ending it is not the way to go. I support DACA and the DREAM Act as well as a legal path to citizenship for all the undocumented people who are already here.
WCT: Where do you stand on the ERA and women's reproductive choice? What about the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements?
VS: Women's reproductive rights need to be protected. I want my daughter to make her own decisions about her body that nobody can take away from her. I want my daughter to receive the same pay as a man who does the same job. This will create a more equal society.
As early as third grade, I never understood why we could not have the ERA and it is long past due to be made an amendment.
It is about time that the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements happened because the disgusting behavior that men have done to women and some men needs to be addressed.
WCT: Are there any elected officials that speak to you due to the way they do their jobs?
VS: I really like Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Ted Lieu. I admire Sen. Elizabeth Warren for her ability to speak out in support of working-class people.
For more information, visit www.electvictorswanson.com/ .