A school teacher raised in Yorkville has announced his candidacy as a Democrat opposing Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, in the 2018 midterm elections for the 14th Congressional District, which includes much of McHenry County.
Victor Swanson, a Batavia resident, grew up in Yorkville surrounded by Republican Party politics. His grandfather, Glen D. Palmer, was Kendall County Republican Party chairman from 1946 to September 1973, and was state director of conservation under Republican Gov. William Stratton.
Swanson moved to Naperville with his mother and siblings from his family’s house on Game Farm Road in Yorkville when he was in fifth grade, when his parents divorced.
Swanson graduated from Naperville Central High School and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served for three years. He later received a teaching degree from Illinois State University and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Northern Illinois University. He teaches social studies at Glenbard East High School in Lombard.
Swanson said he recalled listening to the Rev. Larry Rezash at Yorkville Congregational Church when he was growing up. He cited those sermons when talking about the Republican Party.
“The one thing I learned that I take to heart still today from Rev. Rezash was the most important thing in the world is to love each other and take care of one another, and I just don’t see that in the Republican Party anymore,” Swanson said. “I see a lot of business interests and a lot of doing what’s best for corporations but not doing what’s best for people.”
Swanson said he “got tired” of Hultgren’s actions in Congress.
“I had thought about running in races before, but I’ve never really taken that leap of faith,” he said. “I just got tired of the representation that Randy Hultgren was giving us. He proposes bills on abstinence, and where I work, 40 percent of the students get two meals a day, and the two meals come from school, and he wants to cut those benefits.
“To me, that’s not what the United States is about. The House of Representatives is supposed to be about the people, and I don’t see that in Randy Hultgren. I see him as a representative of financial institutions and insurance companies.”
A first-time candidate, Swanson said he has spoken to Democratic staffers who told him that he wouldn’t be able to afford to run. To run against Hultgren, Swanson would have to defeat any potential challengers in a Democratic Party primary election.
“Almost every single person has said to me, in short, is that the problem with me running is I have a real job,” he said. “Because I won’t have time to do all that fundraising. And that just agitated me and made me want to run even more because if we have people who are running for office who don’t have ‘real jobs,’ then we don’t have true representation.”
He said, however, that he has spoken with people who are “fed up” with the current representation in Washington.
“Money, while it is going to be important, may not be the final answer in this,” he said. “I think people are kind of fed up that these people who have the money are the ones making the decisions, and we shouldn’t be an oligarchy, we should be a representative democracy.”
Swanson’s wife, Karen, also is an educator who teaches fifth grade, and the couple have two children – Ellie, 9, and Carter, 8.