Editorial: We recommend Cort VanOstran for Congress, District 2

Voters in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District deserve better representation than they’re receiving from Republican Rep. Ann Wagner of Ballwin. They have a right to be represented by someone who is accessible and who embraces the democracy-promoting values of town hall meetings. Public accountability is a good thing. Wagner treats it like a disease to be avoided at all costs.

Democrat Cort VanOstran, 30, of Clayton, doesn’t have a lengthy record of public service, but at least he’s there, listening to constituents. He tackles tough questions with confidence and finesse. It’s understandable why Wagner seems so afraid to debate him.

Wagner has done much in recent years to deserve criticism — but also praise. She did commendable work with Sen. Claire McCaskill in a bipartisan legislative effort to crack down on human trafficking. She took a principled stand in 2016, condemning then-presidential candidate Donald Trump for comments denigrating women and withdrawing her endorsement of him.

Here’s what it sounds like when Wagner shows backbone and resolve: “I have committed my short time in Congress to fighting for the most vulnerable in our society. As a strong and vocal advocate for victims of sex trafficking and assault, I must be true to those survivors and myself and condemn the predatory and reprehensible comments of Donald Trump.” That was Wagner in October 2016.

A month later, she performed an epic about-faceand re-endorsed Trump as his popularity soared. When it comes to standing proudly on principle, Wagner slinks into her seat.

Now she positions herself for Oval Office photos right behind a man she once appeared to detest. In one ceremony, Trump praised her work to repeal the 2010 Dodd-Frank consumer protection act. Her effort on behalf of banks and investment services — by far her biggest campaign donors — helps them resume reckless practices that sparked the Great Recession a decade ago.

What does she stand for? It’s hard to say because she so steadfastly avoids candidate debates. We attended one on Monday night in Creve Coeur hoping to hear what Wagner had to say, but she was a no-show, once again.

VanOstran was there, alongside Libertarian candidate Larry Kirk. VanOstran, an attorney, was well-prepared and conversant on an array of issues ranging from Middle East peace to the wide disparities in life expectancy between residents of Clayton and north St. Louis County.

Unlike Wagner, VanOstran is not a lock-step partisan, easily listing four or five congressional Republicans he could work with. He recognizes flaws in Obamacare. He pledges to join the Problem Solvers Caucus, a fiercely bipartisan group dedicated to breaking Capitol Hill gridlock.

Voters who are tired of being ignored while their congresswoman kowtows to bankers and financial services executives will find a refreshing change in VanOstran.

Also running is David Justus Arnold of the Green Party.

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch, October 16, 2018

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