2014 is an election year in Illinois, and Examiner.com is sitting down with some of the candidates for key races so that the voters will be able to make informed decisions. The next in this series is a phone interview with senatorial candidate Sharon Hansen, the Libertarian Party nominee for United States Senate.
Sharon Hansen is a wife, mother, and grandmother. As a former critical care nurse and now a bed and breakfast owner/operator, she loves to take care of people. “If elected, I will still be taking care of people which is what I most enjoy doing.”
We spoke with Hansen regarding her run for the United States Senate.
Why are you running for office?
I’m a new grandma and I want my grandson to grow up in a free country, and I think the way we’re headed, he won’t. We need more and more regular folks, not career politicians across the country to step up and run for office. I actually thought about it a couple of years ago, but I didn’t want to do it. Then I had a near death experience and I thought and prayed about it, why God didn’t want me yet. I was in pain, I wanted to die, I prayed to die, but I didn’t. I thought about what I had done and what have I not done. I thought maybe this is what I’m supposed to do and if God wants me to do this, I’m not going to refuse to do it.
The Libertarian Party is wonderful. The people are so giving and helpful, even at church I haven’t met people like them. They gave up their time to help us get enough signatures so we could get on the ballot and they have helped me with my campaign. All the years I voted, I didn’t like the democrats or the republicans. It was “eeny meeny miney moe.” I woke up in 2012 when the republicans did what they did to Ron Paul. I looked at the Libertarian platform and decided that I was a Libertarian. I agreed with everything in their platform. Somehow I got on a mailing list in Bloomington and I replied and said “I decided I’m going to run for the US Senate in 2014.” The libertarian political director for Illinois was also on the mailing list so, when I replied, it went to everyone, including him. He called me and said “If you’re serious you have to talk to me.” I told him I was serious, and here I am.
What are your qualifications?
Our founding fathers wanted regular folks to go to Washington and that’s what I am. I’m not a millionaire, or a lawyer and I don’t have money in the stock market. I don’t know anybody in Washington. There’s nothing I would vote on that I have a personal stake in. Most of our representatives in Washington are representing themselves, their friends and their families. I don’t care how many of us are raising cain, contacting them, telling them how we feel about things; they already have their minds made up. You’re wasting your time to contact them, that irritated me. They’re being paid to represent us, not themselves. I can’t imagine lying to people. I have a hard enough time keeping track of things when I’m being honest. If you’re representing the people and they tell you to vote a certain way, if anybody gives you a hard time about it, you just tell them that you’re representing the will of the people. That is what they are supposed to be doing, but none of mine are.
Third party candidates have a reputation for being spoilers for the two major parties. Do you agree with this assessment?
No, I don’t. I was a little concerned about that initially. There was a pretty good guy running for the republican nomination, I almost hesitated to run because of him. From what I could tell he seemed like a good guy and I was sure he’d win the nomination. The guy who was running against him is always running for office. He finally gets elected and a year later, he’s already running for another office. That guy got the nomination instead of the guy I thought sounded pretty good. I’m glad I didn’t give up. I remember one election where our senator didn’t have anybody running against him. That should never happen.
Why do you think that you have a better chance than past third party candidates?
I believe I’m the only woman who’s ever run, and people are fed up with the two major parties. There are less than 50% of the population who now consider themselves a democrat or a republican. There are more independents and 3rd party voters than the two major parties. The democrats and republicans have failed America. The people are waking up to that fact.
Same-sex marriage appears to be heading toward legalization in most states.
I’m heterosexual, I can’t even fathom how men are attracted to men and women are attracted to women. But I don’t care what they want to do, if men want to marry men, if women want to marry women I don’t care. The only one who has the right to judge them is God. I believe that people should be free to do what they want. Personally, I think it’s wrong morally; but I would have to leave it up to my constituents, however they want me to vote. I would represent the people, not myself.
What is your opinion on oil fracking? Do you have any environmental concerns about it?
I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion. I’ve read some pros and cons, but I don’t know who’s telling the truth. Each side is a special interest, there’s something they're trying to gain by being for or against it. If people have a vested interest you can’t trust them. I can’t really say if I’m for or against it because I don’t know enough at this point but again it would be up to my constituents to tell me what they want me to do.
Do you support an increase in alternative forms of energy, including green energy such as solar and wind?
I support it if it’s realistic and cost effective. I think we need to find another way besides fossil fuels. I think it can be done. There are powerful people that make a lot of money off of fossil fuels. I’ve read that the government doesn’t want to hear about alternative forms of energy because those who make all that money donate to the campaigns of those who get in the way of alternative fuels. It’s hard to know who to believe. That’s a plus for me, I don’t have a personal interest in anything. I can be as unbiased as any representative in Washington. I don’t think anyone is as unattached to Washington as I am.
Do you support the legalization of marijuana? I do, even though I can’t stand the smell of it. If it never becomes legal I’d personally be okay with it because I can’t stand the smell, but I know it really helps some people and those people shouldn’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get the help they need. I know someone who was born hyperactive, literally bouncing off the walls. He’s like that naturally. They gave him drugs as a child so he could pay attention in school, and he hated it. He’d spit the pills out because they made him feel weird. He discovered pot in high school and it made him feel normal. If pot makes him better, and makes him feel normal, he should be able to smoke it. I’ve read many stories of people being helped by it. I see no reason to continue the war on marijuana when there are so many who can benefit from it.
Do you have any lasting concerns about the regulatory and safety of marijuana?
No, not really. All the reading that I’ve done seems to support the fact that it’s only a problem because it’s illegal, just like prohibition. When alcohol was illegal crime was rampant, and when they let people drink again, crime went down. Now it’s drugs. Gang association and crime are because it’s illegal. It makes criminals out of people who wouldn’t normally hurt a soul. I read about someone who was sent to prison for 80 years because cops coerced him into selling some marijuana. He’s already served 20 years. I think that is more than enough. Peoples’ families have been destroyed by this “war” against drugs. That’s horrible. I think it’s time to bring it to an end.
What is your opinion on gun rights?
I’m very strongly pro Second Amendment. You’ll never get me to vote against the Second Amendment or change it in any way. I believe that it’s our right to defend ourselves. It was originally set up so we could defend ourselves from a tyrannical government. The government is calling those who support it potential terrorists and criminals and that’s baloney. That really irritates me.
What, if anything, will you do in order to make the Affordable Care Act more palatable to your constituents?
I wouldn’t do anything to make it easier to swallow. It has nothing to do with health care, it’s to control us. I would vote to repeal it. The costs are astronomical. We’re fortunate that my husband works for a company that has a good plan. But the costs are going up, we’re paying more, his employer is paying more. I looked into it, if we had no choice but to get it at our age, it would cost us $2,000 a month. I didn’t check the deductibles, but from what I could gather it looked like it would be around $7,500 a year, plus we’d be paying 25 percent of everything. We couldn’t afford that, there’s no way. If there was something life threatening we’d have to live with it (or not). I think it’s unconstitutional, we didn’t ask for it and we are being forced to buy it? It would have been less expensive just to help those who had catastrophic or pre-existing conditions and leave the rest of us alone.
Do you support school choice in the form of vouchers?
Yes I do. There is another thing that I’m really passionate about and that is Common Core and the Department of Education. As best I can calculate, the Department of Education spent $38 billion last year. If we got rid of the Department of Education and returned the money to the taxpayers, the parents and teachers could decide what the kids need. I’ve looked at Common Core. They treat all students the same. Bright kids are having problems learning some of what is being taught and are getting discouraged, not to mention the kids who aren’t that bright. They need to learn life skills as well. Combined classes of all levels of student performance hampers the learning of all students. No one benefits from Common Core, except for the bureaucrats and corporations getting involved with education. The taxpayers, the students and education all suffer.
Do you support an increase in the minimum wage?
No, I don’t. I don’t agree with the minimum wage because I believe that employers (if that person has started their own business) should have the right to pay their employees what they’re worth to the employer. If you don’t think you’re getting what you are worth, go get another job. I think employers should decide. If someone like my sister, who has a learning disability, could have a lower skilled job and get paid less, that’s really good for them. When they can’t get any job, that destroys a person’s self esteem. I think dictating wages by the federal government is ridiculous. Seattle raised theirs to $15 per hour, and now the people aren’t happy. Now they can’t get overtime because the employers can’t afford it. Employees have to get another job, so they’re working the same amount but without the time and a half. People are losing hours, they’re losing insurance, and they are losing income. I don’t think it’s any the government’s business.
How would you handle the current immigration crisis?
I would send them all back to where they came from. It’s not fair to people who’ve gone about it the right way and followed the law. The politicians supported a free for all for selfish reasons. They don’t care about immigration, they don’t care about what it’s doing to the country. They just want more people voting and voting for them. I heard about a senator who said he’d rather see a child sold into slavery than lose his senate seat. I don’t know how someone can feel that way and live with themselves, and we should not be voting for people like that.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
If I get elected I will have a problem. I can’t see my face to put on my makeup without glasses. I’m would have to take my sister with me so she can help me put my make-up on. She’s really good at that. That way she will have a job and I will look presentable!