Profile: Green Party 5th district candidates

March 2, 2009 4:59:26 PM PST
Four candidates in the race each think they could be the first Green Party candidate to be elected to Congress.The Green Party describes itself as a party of grassroots activists who promote social justice causes, ecological and economic sustainability.

On Tuesday, voters in the district will go to the polls to narrow the huge field of 22 candidates down to three.

"Democracy in action" is one way to describe the competition to replace Rahm Emanuel as congressman from the 5th congressional district.

At recent candidate forums, 12 Democrats, six Republicans and four Green Party candidates have packed the stage. Last week we met the Democrats and Republicans.

On Monday we meet the four Green Party candidates.

Mark Fredrickson is a community activist who says the economy is the top issue. He believes in small government and favors constraints on taxation.

Fredrickson sums up his party's concern for the environment.

"Environmental issues continue to plague the nation. We have areas of environmental air pollution. We have water concerns," said Frederickson.

For activist Deb Gordils, the economy, women's issues and immigration issues top her list of priorities.

Gordils says frustration among voters in this heavily Democratic district could open a door for the Green Party.

"This is a chance for Illinois to make another historic moment in D.C. by putting a Green party member in Washington and to actually have another party that both Democrats and Republicans have to address," said Gordils.

Matt Reichel says he's the youngest candidate in the race and thinks he'll resonate with young voters.

He's a vocal critic of government bank bailouts. Reichel lists job creation as a top issue and calls for drastic cuts in military spending.

"We are in need of a third party because both parties have given us war and empire and over spending and the Green Party is ready to address these issues," said Reichel.

Simon Ribiero is a teacher who supports nationalization of the banking system. He also favors a single-payer healthcare system and reducing taxes.

He too believes voters are hungry for an alternative.

"This is a very progressive district. And the Green Party has been a champion of progressive issues whether it be the environment, healthcare policy, a better fiscal policy," said Ribiero.

The name of a fifth Green Party candidate appears on the ballot. Alan Auguston has not been actively campaigning. He tells ABC7 news that he has withdrawn his candidacy.

The primary election is on Tuesday, followed by the special general election on April 7.