The Green Party candidate for the Illinois 12th Congressional District said she wants to end fossil fuel use .
Paula Bradshaw, the Green Party candidate from Carbondale, said she is heading her campaign by addressing the issues of renewable energy, improved public transportation, better use of property space in town and providing jobs in human services. She said she also wants to restore the civil rights that have been under attack from the Patriot Act.
“I’m trying to turn this country around so that the government can work for all the people and not just the one percent of the people that have grabbed control of our government and are using it to funnel public money to their private fortunes,” Bradshaw said.
But for the moment, Bradshaw said her main focus is to win the election.
When asked about her projected chances of winning, Bradshaw said it is up to the voters.
“If (the voters) care about the environment, if they care about their freedom, if they care about their future, they’ll vote for me,” she said. “It’s up to them.”
One main thing Bradshaw said she tries to promote is accountability. She said people and corporations responsible for the resource misuse and environmental destruction need to face consequences and stop being treated like children.
A primary issue Bradshaw campaigns for is less fossil fuel reliance.
“Clearly, we’ve hit the end of fossil fuels, which people just can’t
manage to grasp for some reason,” she said. “We’ve had them for about 150 years and now they are almost gone … We just burned it like drunken sailors. We really should have conserved it.”
Bradshaw supports environmentally friendly energy sources such as solar and wind energy. She said she thinks there might be some backlash for her position against using coal and natural gas, even though her opponents are in favor of it, she said.
Bradshaw said she comes from a coal mining family herself and knows what the job entails.
“It’s dangerous. It’s dirty. It’s a difficult job,” she said. “But when it was unionized, it was a good-paying job with benefits. The thing is these mines that are opening aren’t unionized, so there is absolutely no benefits to open coal mines instead of having wind energy.”
She said workers would probably prefer to work in a nice, clean wind turbine facility rather than a dangerous coal mine.
Bradshaw also supports constructing a light rail system as a means of public transportation because she said she believes the system would be more efficient and environmentally friendly than vehicle use.
She said she also wants to make better use of the county’s housing space. Bradshaw said an example of her idea is to move shops and restaurants include apartments on the floors above them, much like some buildings in downtown Carbondale.
Though the Green Party is a third party in elections, it is still important to the overall election, according to political experts.
“The Green Party’s role in this election is to win, just like any other candidate that runs for office,” said Samantha Rocknowski, Bradshaw’s campaign manager. “Green candidates provide an alternative to the two corporate parties and push key issues that oftentimes are otherwise not discussed.”
Rocknowski said corporations throw millions of dollars into campaign races to ensure politicians remain on their side. She said issues like military spending, the prison-industrial complex and transitions into renewable energies are not discussed enough without Green Party candidates pushing the issues.
Rocknowski said the Green Party’s first key value is grassroots democracy, which means it does not take corporate donations.
“The only monetary support Green candidates receives comes from individual Green supporters,” she said. “Therefore, Green candidates support the interests of the people and not corporate interests.”
She said the party has received support in this district. She said Bradshaw has been invited to six debates so far, while some of the other party candidates in other districts haven’t been invited to one.
Rocknowski also said her party has a better connection to the community than the other parties.
“The Green Party represents the people by definition,” she said. “The majority of people that are able and willing to hear the Green message agree with it. We want our people and planet to be as healthy as possible. We want our civil liberties and rights given to us by the Constitution restored.”
Even though the Green Party is a third party, Rocknowski said she believes Bradshaw can win the election.
“Paula Bradshaw has just as much of a chance to win this election as her opponents do,” she said. “She’s stayed focused on addressing the districts’ issues and I know that the voters appreciate it. Bradshaw can be the progressive solution that this district needs, so long as the voters are willing to open minds to an alternative, people-focused and not money-driven candidate.”
Rocknowski said Bradshaw is the only candidate in this race that supports same sex marriage, ending all wars and conflicts, and repealing the Patriot and National Defense Authorization Acts.
David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU, attended the last Pizza and Politics event where Bradshaw was available for discussion. Yepsen said about 20 students attended the meeting to talk about issues and ask questions.
He said there are many issues that the Green Party is facing in an uphill battle this campaign.
“One of the challenges that a Green Party candidate faces is convincing people that voting for them isn’t a wasted vote, and (Bradshaw) argues that it would be a principle vote,” he said.
Yepsen also said the Green Party candidate’s role in this race could be critical.
“I think one of the issues in the campaign is if we have a close race here and the Green Party candidate takes votes from the Democratic candidate, this could play a role in tipping it to the Republicans,” he said.
Yepsen said Democratic analysts have said they are worried the Green Party will take votes away from their party because the Green Party is liberal as well.
Yepsen said he thinks Bradshaw does not have a chance of winning, but that does not mean she isn’t important in this race.
“Third parties, they may not win elections, but they do have an impact on politics and on the issues,” he said.