WSIU hosts 12th district congressional representative debate, candidates discuss government control, women’s rights, marijuana legalization


Mike Bost, republican representitive of Illinois 12th district, looks to the crowd during the 12th Congressional District Debate, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, at Studio A inside the Communications Building. (Isabel Miller | @IsabelMillerDe)

By Claire Cowley, Staff Reporter

Incumbent Illinois representative Mike Bost (R- Murphysboro) debated campaign competitors Brendan Kelly (D- Swansea) and Randy Auxier (G-Murphysboro) on various state issues.

WSIU televised the 90 minute debate live in Studio B of the Communications building tonight.

Jak Tichenor served as moderator among panelists Jennifer Fuller of WSIU Public radio, Alee Quick of Southern Illinoisan, and Beth Hundsdorfer of the Belleville News-Democrat.


“As a prosecutor, I’ve had the opportunity from time to time to cross examine witnesses on the stand a few times and you can tell when the pressure is getting to them because they lie and they lie and they lie,” Kelly, current St. Clair county state’s attorney, said.  

Kelly also said he thinks the pressure in this congressional election must be getting to congressman Bost due to his repeated public deceit from Bost’s constituents.

“And that’s the difference between [Bost] and me,” Kelly said. “I have never taken a dime from Nancy Pelosi. […] [Bost] has taken $16,000 from Bruce Rauner and just came to [Carbondale] from a fundraiser with Paul Ryan.”

Bost said he thinks his constituents want his candidacy to remain.

“Eleven leaders have endorsed my candidacy,” Bost said. “That’s why the united mine workers support me because I’m working on the issues that we’re talking about.”

Bost also said he knows and understands the circumstances of the 12th district.

“I’ve worked hard for them,” Bost said. “I was 23 when I was a county board member because I was concerned about serving my community.”


Bost also said he has served this district as a firefighter, local, state and now federal goverment.

Auxier, green party candidate and SIU philosophy and communication studies professor, said he will not be caucusing with the democrats or the republicans on a question of political process.

“I intend to maintain my independence fiercely so, but in so doing I will work with anyone who makes sense and who wants to work with me,” Auxier said. “Some might worry that that puts me in a position to not be able to do much for southern Illinois.”

Auxier also said the freedom he would bring, independent discourse and vote meetings will enable him to make this region a primary focus.

“I believe that these are honorable men on either side of me and I’m in between them for the greater good at the moment,” Auxier said. “But, they are also members of great big organizations and they have to play with their organizations.”

Auxier also said that doesn’t mean they can’t deviate every once and while.

“Brendan said he’s not a cookie cutter democrat and I believe him, but every time he deviates […] it would likely be to the right,” Auxier said.

Auxier also said he can not deviate from anything because he doesn’t belong to any big corporations and doesn’t owe organizations anything.

Panelists asked about controversial topics like the MeToo movement initiative, medical or recreational marijuana, green energy, women’s rights and immigration reform.

“We have to make sure we don’t just talk the talk, but we also walk the walk,” Kelly said.

Kelly also said he’s had the opportunity to listen to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

“What you notice when you’re in the room with [abuse victims] is the silence,” Kelly said. “They don’t want to have to relive that experience or get on the stand and comfort their attacker.”

Kelly also said these victims not only worry about abuse, but also treatment from politicians like Bost that use their personal experience in a cheap political advertisement.

“That’s not the only problem in terms of how [Bost treatment of women],” Kelly said. “The healthcare coverage [Bost supports] discriminates against women.”

Bost said the budget for women’s health is decided by local administration and they will give funding to local health facilities.

“I believe there was too much controversy that existed [surrounding] the planned parenthood facilities,” Bost said. “I believe our local health department provide the quality services that young women need.”

The American military-industrial complex, border control issue, planned parenthood abortion dispute, opioid crisis and pension burden all were debated on as well.  

“I have co-sponsored dozens of bills to combat the opioid epidemic to improve treatment, training and care for victims of abuse,” Bost said.

Bost said his task force is going to work and move forward with legislation above and beyond to deal with this crisis.

“Republicans control the White House, the senate and the house of representatives,” Kelly said.  

Kelly also said republicans just let the violence against women act expire and there’s absolutely no excuse for that.

“The same thing that makes us safe, is the same thing that makes us moral,” Auxier said.

Voting for 12th congressional district candidates are on Nov. 6.

Staff reporter Claire Cowley can be reached at

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