As the next election cycle is approaching, Clayton Times has decided to reach out to all primary candidates for the 2nd Congressional District in Missouri. We’ve previously talked with Mark Osmack, Kelli Dunaway, and Bill Haas.
At last, we had the opportunity to interview the final Democrat challenger, Cort VanOstran. VanOstran, who lives in Clayton, is a Harvard grad and visiting lecturer at Washington University School of Law. According to his website, Cort also teaches and mentors at the Missouri Scholars Academy.
Clayton Times: What made you interested in running?
VanOstran: Service has been something that’s been a part of my life for a long time but losing my mom after a two year battle with cancer last year gave me immediate experience with issues related to healthcare. When I watched Ann Wagner go to cut 24 million people off of their insurance plans earlier this year, I decided it was time for me to step up and try and make a difference.
Clayton Times: What separates you from other Democrats running in the 2nd Congressional race?
VanOstran: I have already been involved in advocacy work in terms of the kind of law I practice. I represent Missourians who have been injured by over-aggressive corporations and in particular farmers. I have also been involved in advocacy work through what I do at Washington University where I run a program that puts Washington University students in St. Louis area public schools and in my service on the board of a non-profit that’s aimed at rehabilitative work in prisons. I think as far as differences in the issues, I’m not sure I know enough of where the other candidates stand to really draw in any comparisons. But I think my record of advocacy is unique in this race.
Clayton Times: On the FEC website, you have over $100,000 more than any other Democrat running, how did you achieve that?
VanOstran: We’ve worked very hard but I also think it speaks to the fact that voters in the 2nd are ready for a change in leadership and they’re ready for a representative that shows up. Ann Wagner is someone who hasn’t felt like she’s needed to show up for the voters in 2nd District because she takes over 99 percent of her contributions from special corporate interests and very large individual donors. I think that not only the depth of our support but the breadth of our support collected nearly 500 contributions of a $100 or less, speaks to the fact the voters in the 2nd District are hungry for change.
Clayton Times: What’s the biggest challenge in running as a candidate in Missouri?
VanOstran: Being a candidate has ups-and-downs but I don’t think the challenges of running for political office even compare to the challenges that the people in the 2nd District are facing every single day. I think they deserve a representative who understands those challenges, who has lived some of those challenges and is willing to show up, listen to their needs and concerns and fight for them in Washington.
Clayton Times: How would you rate U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner’s time in office?
VanOstran: To be an effective representative you have to show up and listen to the concerns of your constituents. This is a congresswoman who hasn’t held a real town hall in longer than anyone can remember. She’s not interested in finding out how the people of the 2nd District feel. I think she gets an F, in terms of her performance as a representative in Washington.
Clayton Times: What would you do differently?
VanOstran: Listen, first and foremost. I’ll be a congressman who is available to my constituents, and I will pledge right now to make it a priority to have a town hall and engage with my constituents at every recess opportunity.
Clayton Times: On a national level, how would you rate Donald’s Trump presidency?
VanOstran: Any objective evaluation of this administration has to look for results. This is a president whose party controls every branch of government and yet on health care, on tax reform, on immigration reform, on any of the issues that affect voters living in the 2nd District, there’s been no progress whatsoever. This president and this party have been unable to move the ball. On those objective measures alone, I think this presidency has been a failure and that’s not even to mention the scandals and other issues that have plagued Donald Trump’s time in office.
Clayton Times: Is there anything else that you would like to tell voters about your campaign?
VanOstran: I think we are excited to give voters in the 2nd District a real choice in this election. Ann Wagner is someone who has benefitted from all of the advantages of incumbency. She’s been able to raise a lot of money from a lot of corporate special interests. I think voters in the 2nd (District) are excited to have a real opportunity to vote for leadership instead of the same old failed policies of the status-quo.