9th congressional GOP hopefuls differ on many issues
Voters in the Republican primary will have two very different candidates to choose from in the 9th Congressional District, as David Earl Williams III and Susanne Atanus vie for the right to face Rep. Jan Schakowsky in the fall.
Williams, 30, of Chicago, is a first time candidate and U.S. Navy veteran, who says he voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but has since changed his political leanings.
Atanus, 55, has run for this office twice before -- she lost the 2010 GOP primary and in 2012 was taken off the ballot because she didn't have enough valid signatures. She says her plans for the economy will win over voters this time.
The two have vastly different opinions on nearly everything including foreign aid, marriage equality, NSA spying, immigration and the economy, but both call themselves Republicans.
Williams was born in Evanston and raised by a single mother in Chicago before serving in the U.S. Navy in Asia and the Middle East. He said he used to be a Democrat, but soon after Obama was elected he became disillusioned with the hope and change that the campaign had promised. He got involved with the Ron Paul 2012 campaign and now considers himself a moderate.
For Atanus, who lives in Niles and has both an MBA and master's in public administration but is working full time on her campaign, the top issue is the economy. She maintains that ridding the nation of the stock indexes including the S&P, Dow Jones and Nasdaq would improve the nation's fiscal troubles.
"I'm upset with us having no economy for the 99 percent," Atanus said. "The middle class has been robbed."
Williams said he would handle the economy differently.
"We need to stop bailing out the banks and loser companies like GM," he said. Williams favors what he calls a "fair" tax -- a 23 percent national sales tax on all new goods and services, to replace the federal income tax and other taxes.
Atanus was outspoken on several other issues, as well.
"Abortions should not be used for birth control," she said during an endorsement session both candidates had with the Daily Herald editorial board on Monday.
Williams said he also is pro-life, but said the decision should be between a woman and her doctor without government involvement.
"I am a conservative Republican and I believe in God first," Atanus said. She said she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as in response to gay rights and legalized abortions.
"God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions," she said. "Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it's in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God."
Williams responded that AIDS is spread by unsafe sexual practices in all people, not just homosexuals, and said that as a veteran he was offended by her comments.
"I've served with people who were gay during, 'Don't ask, don't tell' and you aren't worrying about if someone is gay or not, you're worrying about if you're going to live the next day," Williams said.
Williams said he believes marriage should remain between a man and woman, but adds that the government should stay out of the marriage business and leave it up to churches.
On immigration, Williams said he doesn't believe in amnesty but would like to see a path to citizenship for immigrants that could include work visas or military service. Atanus said she believes in open borders and that people should be able to travel freely without passports.
While Williams said he is not OK with the NSA listening and reading American phone calls and emails, Atanus said she thinks domestic surveillance is necessary for national security.
Williams does not want to raise the minimum wage while Atanus said she thinks it is needed to get the economy moving.
In more personal developments, Williams has a domestic violence order of protection that was filed against him by a Washington, D.C. judge in December.
Williams' campaign manager, Rae Ann McNeilly, of Taxpayers United of America, called it a "frivolous, unfounded claim" that resulted from a six-month, casual long-distance relationship. McNeilly said the woman misunderstood the seriousness of the relationship and is lashing out over a breakup.
According to a story published in the online newspaper Evanston Now, the allegations against Williams include that he tried to have the ex-girlfriend fired from her job and kicked out of school by impersonating her online.
Williams is appealing the judge's ruling, which calls for him to attend anger management classes and undergo a mental health assessment.
"The judge did the right thing to issue an order of protection because the woman was hysterical and asking for protection," McNeilly said. "But this is a nonissue."
Williams, who says he works in logistics, refused to disclose where he works because he has not yet informed his employer that he is running for Congress, he said.