Congressional candidate and University professor to speak on environmental concerns


Elisabeth Neely

Portrait of University professor Jonathan Ebel. Ebel is a professor in the Department of Religion and is a Democratic congressional candidate for the 13th Congressional District.

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

Students for Environmental Concerns is hosting a forum on environmental policy with professor Jonathan Ebel at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St., on Wednesday from 6:30-8 p.m.

Jonathan Ebel is a professor in the Department of Religion and is a Democratic congressional candidate for the 13th Congressional District.

SECS is the oldest and largest environmental group on the University campus, said Benjamin Chapman, co-chair for the SECS political action committee and moderator of the forum.

He said SECS is holding the event as a public service.

“By offering this voter education event, we can inform voters on who they might choose to support in the upcoming election, which we believe is valuable public service,” Chapman said.

The event will begin with announcements from SECS presidents and the political action committee, followed by an introductory speech from Ebel, Chapman said. After his speech will be a question and answer portion.

He said SECS has prepared questions involving environmental issues for the candidate to answer in an attempt to get candidates to think deeply about environmental policy.

“By asking the candidates in the Illinois 13th congressional race to be public about their environmental stances, we not only encourage them to seriously consider our issues, but we motivate them to live up to their promises if elected,” Chapman said.

Ebel said in an email the most important thing for him to hear at the forum is the audience’s environmental concerns.

“(To) have a conversation with (the audience) about what the solutions to what those concerns might be (is important),” Ebel said. “I know the University quite well and I know how many really smart people there are here on issues of environmental protection and conservation and green energy and green technology.”

Ebel said he not only hopes to clarify what his positions on the environment are, but that he also wants to learn as much as he can from those “really smart people.”

“I believe that climate change is real and that science has demonstrated it to be absolutely true,” Ebel said. “There’s really incontrovertible evidence and I’m perplexed that our brothers and sisters on the other side of the aisle seem to reject that science, but it’s their right.”

Ebel said we have an urgent crisis on our hands and that it’s something we need to be addressing aggressively through infrastructure improvements and the development of green energy sources, as well as beginning to limit our consumption of fossil fuels.

“We need to act quickly and we need to act decisively. Save the climate, save humanity as we know it,” he said.

Ebel said if people decide to vote for him, they’re voting for someone who feels very strongly about preserving and protecting the environment, but also for someone who is a lifelong learner.

“I’m an educator, and I know that because I’m an educator I still have a lot to learn, so I would be someone, as their representative, who would be in constant touch with the scientist at the leading edge of environmental research and green technology research trying to find ways that the government could support the absolutely vital work that they’re doing,” Ebel said.

Ebel said he decided to run for Congress a year ago after the 2016 election because he was not happy with the direction the country chose to go in. He decided to try to be a part of the solution.

“I have never been (passive) about things (I don’t like), and I talked to my family and we decided that this was not only something that I wanted to do, but something that I had to do,” Ebel said.

He said one of the reasons he had to run was because “our current representative does not represent us accurately.”

“I think we need a representative who will be responsive, present, has the courage and has convictions and I would be that sort of representative,” Ebel said.

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