Most people may not have heard of LeAlan Joneswhich seems to make him all the more determined to make his mark in a U.S. Senate race that has focused on Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias. Jones, the Green Party candidate, talked with Windy City Times about the economy; a debate with his foes; and LGBT rights and even the Pride Parade in a discussion that took an unexpected turn.
Windy City Times: Could you provide a little background about yourself?
LeAlan Jones: I'm a 31-year-old Green Party candidate for the United States Senate. I have a journalist candidate and won a Peabody and the Robert F. Kennedy Grand Prize for [ the documentary ] Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago. I'm also a volunteer football coach at Simeon Career Academy, which has the number-six football team in Illinois.
WCT: Why do you think you're the best candidate for the Senate?
LeAlan Jones: If you look at what's going on and the issues that people are facingsuch as Americans being $6.6 trillion short regarding retirement, that people want to cut Social Security funding as well as raising the age when one qualifies for thatthey present problems for baby boomers. We have schools that are underpreparing a generation of people to be viable in the economy. Also, the two major parties' interest in helping people has been [ surpassed ] by their interest in helping corporations. If there was ever a time for a third-party candidate, that would be now.
WCT: You have something very interesting on your website: "When people ask me if I am a spoiler candidate, I ask them: 'How do you spoil something that's already rotten?'"
LeAlan Jones: Yeah, I don't know how you do that. When you look at wages and cost of livinganything that demonstrates the productivity of the political processthey would get failing grades on [ everything ] . What we're trying to do, as Green Party candidates, is to give people an opportunity to have a government that represents them.
Wall Street has been the beneficiary of Republicans and Democrats over the last decade. In terms of what happened over the Clinton administration, not a lot of people want to look at the Democratic policiesespecially in places like Chicago. Nobody is talking about the fact that Clinton signed the crime-reform bill in [ 1994 ] , and now we have more crime in 2010. Clinton signed the Gramm—Leach—Bliley Act, which basically gutted the Taft-Hartley Act, if I'm being accurate. [ Note: The measure Clinton signed repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which banned an institution from being a combination of an insurance company, investment bank and a commercial bank. ] That gutting created the technology bubble that burst, which created the Enrons of the world and the housing market that boomed and busted. As much as that was Bush's fault, it goes back to the Clinton administration as well. There's this pendulum of peril that exists between both parties.
WCT: What is the first thing that should be done to create jobs?
LeAlan Jones: We have to provide the liquidity to small and medium-sized businesses, those business that have the capacity to hire and redirect the economy. We can no longer support large corporate entities that end up gutting local access to market, like Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart coming to Chicago is going to be a long-term inhibitor of job creation, as opposed to the couple thousand jobs they have provided.
WCT: You also mention something about free ad time for all political candidates. I know this calls for speculation, but do you think that if you had a lot of money in your war chest that you'd be in favor of something like that?
LeAlan Jones: I want this to be a process of the people, and it's not right now. Right now, the airwaves are being flooded by ads talking about what political candidates want to do in terms of helping people; we saw those same ads that [ former governors ] Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan ran. It's about selling political candidates.
WCT: So your answer's "yes?"
LeAlan Jones: Yes. That's a part of democracy. It shouldn't be about who has the most money; it should be about who has the most resolve to address the issues of the people.
WCT: Now let's discuss LGBT issues. You have said that you're in favor of marriage equality?
LeAlan Jones: I think so. I think it's a slippery slope when the government starts dictating who has the right to express their freedom. Even though I may personally have difficulty with the issue, we live in a free society. Not long ago, African Americans were told they couldn't marry whites. It's not in the government's best interest to dictate what grown adults do. Again, my personal views should not trump society's view at large.
WCT: OK. What are your feelings regarding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?"
LeAlan Jones: It's, again, one of those issues in which the government should not dictate. I do not support "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." A person has the right to be what he wants to beespecially if he's representing the freedoms of everyone in this country.
WCT: By the way, did you march in [ this year's ] Pride Parade?
LeAlan Jones: Yes, I did. I'll be honest with you, though: I was reticent doing it at first, being a heterosexual man and a football coach, but I enjoyed doing it.
WCT: I'm sorry: What does being a "football coach" have to do with the parade?
LeAlan Jones: Football is such a masculine, testosterone-driven sport. I had to explain to the kids that we have to be tolerant of all people, but I had fun at the parade. Usually, transgender issues are not discussed in the African-American community, but I've become more open and tolerant. It's about humanity.
WCT: OK, because there are [ LGBT ] people who play football and all other sports. I play lots of sports, and follow pro and college football [ religiously ] .
LeAlan Jones: In the African-American community, homosexuality is still a taboo subject. People need to understand that the larger issue is humanity. We have such a void in society regarding tolerance of each other.
WCT: Are you concerned that you might not be included in debates with your opponents because of poll numbers? [ On his website, Jones is urging supporters to call NBC and end its blackout of him; he is apparently currently excluded from a Meet the Press debate scheduled for Oct. 10. ]
LeAlan Jones: In one poll, we're at 4 percent, which would qualify us for a debate. I think it'd be a disservice not to have me in the debate when you consider that the two major candidates have not talked about the issues that are relevant to the people; they're talking about each other.
WCT: Was there anything you wanted to add?
LeAlan Jones: I am a candidate who supports all communities, [ regardless ] of gender, sex, sexual orientation or race. I'd hope that the LGBT community realizes that I'm willing to work with them on the issues that are important to them, as well as issues such as education and small-business creation. The LGBT community has a voice, and I'd like to build a culture of tolerance with everyone. That, in itself, would have economic benefits to society at large.
See www.lealanforsenate.org .