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Anthony Alongi, former Hastings councilman, to run for US president in 2020

Anthony Alongi is pictured during a mid-December interview with the Star Gazette, just before the end of his third city council term. (File photo)

Just minutes after President Donald Trump took the oath of office, one Hastings man decided to put his name in the ring to compete for the presidency in 2020.

Anthony Alongi, who just weeks ago completed his third and final term as a Hastings City Council member, launched a new Facebook page, The Presidential Campaign Committee for Anthony Alongi, posting a photo today of his completed Statement of Candidacy (FEC Form 2).

Late Friday afternoon, Alongi told the Star Gazette he had filled out the form just after midnight Friday morning. Afterwards, he went to bed, woke up, played basketball like he usually does and went to work. At the time of the interview, he had not yet formally filed the Statement of Candidacy. As a public employee, he said, he didn't want to use any taxpayer time for his own political activity, "and nor will I ever." He said he would file the form as soon as he is able to do so outside his working hours.

In his candidacy announcement, Alongi claims no political party, “Like a large and growing number of Americans,” he wrote in his Facebook post, and said he'll run on a four-part platform of fiscal responsibility, social mending, strong defense and security, and ethical government.

“My political opponent has barely started in office and already failed on matters of fiscal responsibility, social mending, defense and ethics,” the post reads.

Alongi said his bid is not just symbolic.

“It's intended to do a couple different things,” he said.

First, he said, he believes he could do a better job than the incumbent. Second, he said he believes he can contribute to a better America.

“I think I have something to contribute to the dialogue,” he said. “I have something to contribute to the healing of our country, to our community … I want to join that discussion and be part of the solution instead of just elaborating on the problems.”

In December, Alongi completed his third term on the Hastings City Council after opting not to seek re-election for a fourth term. He voluntarily vacated the seat to fulfill a promise he had made to voters when he was first elected: that he would not keep the seat more than two or three terms, he told the Star Gazette in mid-December. On Friday, he said he had been considering his bid for U.S. president at the time, but hadn’t finalized his decision until the week before Trump’s inauguration.

He posted his candidacy announcement on Facebook at 11:02 a.m. Friday, Jan. 20. Just two minutes earlier in Washington, D.C., Trump had taken the oath of office.

“One minute of a Trump presidency was long enough,” Alongi said. “It was time to start focusing on the next one.”

Alongi added that polling results show that Americans want ethical government, want to see their leaders’ taxes and want to see policies carried out in a certain way, and that, in just his first day in office, the 45th president of the United States delivered empty promises and even promised not to do things the people have asked him to do.

Proving his worth

Alongi spent 12 consecutive years on the Hastings City Council. Before that, he was a member of the Hastings Planning Commission, from about 2000 to 2004. He brings more public sector experience to his resume from his day job; he is currently the section manager for policy and planning with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and he has held other staff positions in Minnesota state government as well.

Alongi also has private sector experience. He is a published author and has done some contract for hire work, he said.

“I would bring experience from multiple sectors to the campaign,” he said.

Although he enters the national political field with years of local public service experience, he admitted he has plenty to learn.

“I’m very much an outsider to the typical crowd that deals with federal politics,” he said.

These first moments of his campaign he said he’ll be focused on watching initial reactions and gauging what he sees and hears from people around him.

“I’m going to listen to people,” he said.

And, at least for now, he’s not seeking any monetary support. The initial stages won’t require much funding, he said, and he doesn’t want people to feel like he’s asking for money without proving his value as a candidate. In a Jan. 21 post to his campaign page on Facebook, Alongi reminded his supporters not to donate to him at this point, saying “I have proven nothing yet that's worth paying for.” Instead, he encourages his supporters to instead donate to legitimate charities that help the less fortunate.

“I’d rather be able to demonstrate something in the way of results, even if it’s just a few basic items,” he told the Star Gazette.

One of those items includes articulating his policy positions. In his initial announcement on Facebook, Alongi outlined four basic priorities. First was fiscal responsibility, returning wasted funds to the people or investing in the nation’s infrastructure and economic prosperity.

“I will use my 12 years' proven experience as an elected official to keep taxes reasonable, government staff levels stable or declining, and cost-effectiveness high,” he wrote.

Second, he’s focused on social mending. He said he would welcome immigrants and refugees, would keep government out of religions and bedrooms and “will value the gifts that each American brings no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, religion or educational level.”

Third, Alongi is working for a strong defense and security for the nation “... We will promote policies that blend thoughtful expertise with deep understanding of Americans citizens' needs and privacy rights. We will support NATO, negotiate using a ‘trust but verify’ approach with major nondemocratic powers like China and Russia, and respect the role of Congress in committing any American soldiers to areas where their lives may be in danger.”

Lastly, Alongi noted that, if elected, his administration would be “an example of clean and modern ethics.” Specifically, he said he would release his taxes and financial information prior to any major debate and would follow all advice from the Office of Government Ethics. “My administration will honor the scientific method, will make itself available to serious and professional journalists upon request, and will refrain from conflicts of interest when determining policy,” he wrote.

Alongi is likely to have plenty of competition in the next presidential election. In 2016, the Federal Election Commission saw 1,764 people file a Statement of Candidacy.

Committed to the cause

Alongi said he plans to carry his campaign through “until I either win or until I’m convinced that winning is no longer possible.”

He said he has given himself as much time as possible to build his campaign, since he declared he would run right at the start of Trump’s presidency.

“There’s lots of time,” he said.

In that time, he plans to follow the same advice he gave Hastings’ new council members: to pay attention and listen. He said he’ll receive a packet from the Federal Election Commission that will help him ensure he runs his campaign within proper parameters. He also plans to start gathering a group of people to help him build the various parts of his campaign.

He said he will continue to reject campaign donations until his campaign advances enough to require funding.

And, although Alongi is launching his bid without any political party, he said there’s a possibility that might change later. He said he won’t solicit any party affiliation, but would remain open to conversations and might consider joining a party if it aligns with his political positions.

Reactions

Initial reactions on Facebook to Alongi’s announcement have been mostly positive, even though some at first thought the new Facebook page and its contents were not serious.

“I wish you would really run,” one commenter wrote, to which Alongi responded “I am!”

“And here I thought you were being a smarty pants!” one person commented, citing an earlier version of this article published on the Hastings Star Gazette website.

The majority of the comments on Alongi’s announcement, however, expressed excitement and support. Comments posted to the Hastings Star Gazette Facebook page did include support, but also a little more skepticism.

“Really? After one minute? Give the new President a chance,” one person wrote.

“Save your time and money... no one will vote,” wrote another.

Hastings Mayor Paul Hicks, after hearing Alongi’s announcement, commended Alongi for his decision to run for president.

“He’s passionate about issues, he cares about his city, his state, his nation,” Hicks said. “... Kudos to him.”

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