By Matthew K. Jensen
Logan's own Rocky Anderson hasn't squelched his fiery criticism of Washington politics and says his plans for new leadership are just what Americans want and something the dominant candidates aren't even discussing.
The former two-term mayor of Salt Lake City and Cache Valley native will be on the ballot for U.S. president next month, representing for the first time his newly created political alliance, the Justice Party.
Anderson grew up on a leafy street east of Utah State University, through the block from what is now Fredrico's Pizza on 700 North.
"We lived on the corner of Maple Drive and Juniper Drive, and it was exactly how it sounds and still is in many respects," Anderson told The Herald Journal on Tuesday. "I always drive by when I come up to Logan -- to see the old neighborhood."
The 61-year-old reminisced about visiting his father at the family's lumber business and water-powered saw mill and on growing up with strong community ties.
"Those were times when everybody in the neighborhood knew each other," he said. "I could still rattle off the first and last names of people who lived on both sides of the street. It was a safe, tree-lined and beautiful neighborhood full of people who not only knew each other but cared about each other ... something that I think is sadly lost in many of our lives."
Anderson attended grade school at the Whittier School and later enrolled in the first class at the original Edith Bowen building. The Anderson family went to church in a Quonset hut on the USU campus -- a building that today houses Utah Public Radio and other university offices. His family moved away from Logan when Anderson was 7.
Since announcing his run for the White House in January, Anderson has stressed the elimination of corporate influence in American government and on making the office of president more accountable. Other issues that top his list, he said, are climate change, equal rights and the regulation of banking and finance industries.
"We want to clean up our government and remove the corrupting influence of money from both the electoral system and the operation of government," he said. "We are tragically at the point of having a plutocracy rather than a democracy in this country where money calls all the shots."
The former mayor, who served from 2000 to 2008, argues now may be the best time to get voters interested in a new party since, according to him, scores of voters are leaving the ranks of status quo politics.
"Millions of people have left the Republican and Democratic parties over the past four years," he added. "The polls clearly reflect that the majority of Americans want to see a major third party or independent candidates."
Anderson said public perception of his platform varies widely, but at the end of the day, he wants what most Americans want, he said.
"In Utah, I'm considered some kind of left-wing liberal," he said. "But what I'm really focused on represents what the majority of the American people want, and it's very different from what President Obama or Mitt Romney are advocating."
Explaining the purpose of the new Justice Party, Anderson says his campaign is different because the two primary candidates are ignoring the country's most significant challenges.
"Neither of the dominant parties will even discuss breaking up the banks that are too big to fail," he added. "We just went through a major economic upheaval with tragic results for the American people ... and yet the conditions that led to the economic meltdown are still in place, and it's because these candidates and their parties have received millions of dollars from Wall Street firms."
The candidate said he wants the White House to be held accountable for its aerial drone program, which Anderson says has killed "hundreds if not thousands of innocent men, women and children," and tainted the United States' reputation for global security.
Anderson said his campaign has spent about $50,000 so far and restricts individual campaign contributions to $100.
"We've worked with very little money," he added. "Most of the money we've spent has been on getting ballot access in what is a very anti-democratic system around the country where alternative parties and candidates find it almost impossible to get on state ballots."
In November, Anderson and his running mate, Luis Rodriguez, will appear on ballots in 16 states and will count as write-ins in 16 others plus the District of Columbia.
Anderson will be in Logan on Oct. 26 to speak from 10:30 a.m. to noon as part of the Morris Media & Society Lecture at Utah State University. Voters can learn more about his campaign by visiting www.voterocky.org.