Not your average presidential candidate

Lisa Trigg/Tribune-StarRunning: Kasey Wells, an independent write-in candidate for president, poses in Terre Haute on Tuesday with his scrap-metal sculpture of an elephant that he tows behind him as he travels the country. 

A man on a mission, towing a shiny elephant he created from scrap metals and materials, stopped Tuesday in Terre Haute to share his dream for America’s future.

Kasey Wells of the small town of Lexington, Illinois, has been traveling the Midwest and eastern United States on the presidential campaign trail, with the elephant in tow as a conversation starter.

Wells is an independent, write-in candidate for the 2020 presidential election, and he said Tuesday he has found most people willing to talk with him about their frustrations with, and hopes for, America.

“Right now we have this politics — Republican and Democratic parties — who are constantly bickering back and forth, and seem to forget who they are working for, which is the American people. And that is why I’ll be an independent until the end of time,” Wells said.

A self-described “starving artist.” Wells said he has been thinking about entering the political arena for several years. He said he has researched the power structures that undergird American politics, and he wants to bring awareness to environmental issues, economic inequality and political corruption.

“I just want to go to D.C. and remind them every day who they are working for,” Wells said. “And try to bring us back together. To cause less division, and do what we can to correct this imbalance between the rich and the poor.”

He has already, in fact, been to Washington D.C. with the elephant, and has had his photograph taken in front of the White House with the creation.

While an elephant has long been a logo associated with the Republican Party, Wells said his creation refers to the “elephant in the room” that people avoid — poverty, corruption and the environment.

A sculptor, Wells earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts and his master’s degree in arts technology from Illinois State University. He taught there a year, then left in 2009 to focus on his art and the political and economic origins of power. Wells said his wife has been supportive of his endeavors, especially as he has traveled around the country sharing his message.

To support himself, Wells scraps metal. In his community in central Illinois, he is known as a person who can turn other people’s junk into works of art.

A farmer who removed an old fuel tank from his property gave Wells the tank to scrap. Wells said the tank sat in his driveway for a few days before he and an artist friend from Chicago began to transform it. They used old basketball backboards to create the ears of the shiny beast, and added other metals and chains to form the body of the elephant.

Once it was completed, Wells said, he headed to a sculpture competition in Lenoir, North Carolina.

With his final $100 in his pocket, Wells was pleased to win his “first democratic election” when his sculpture was selected for the People’s Choice award and he received a $500 prize. The sculpture also won a $3,000 prize as Best of Show.

He used that new money to go to Washington, D.C., where he met with homeless people and grew grassroots support for his campaign.

He has been posting photos of his travels on his Facebook page — Kasey Wells for President — and he finds people are taking his campaign seriously. He posts photos of his travels and selfies with his supporters.

“Since then I’ve gotten small donations that help me continue,” he said.

He recently traveled to Chicago and to St. Louis, and he reached his goal of traveling to New York City to have his photo taken with the elephant with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

He plans to continue traveling and sharing his goal of creating a “direct democracy” where government’s decisions are based on input from all citizens who then vote on a government agenda. The idea is that the best public policy will rise to the top, he said.

“The Declaration of Independence states that government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed,” Wells said. “I think the government has been operating outside of our consent for far too long.”

More information about Wells and his campaign is available online at www.kaseywellsforpresident.com.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.

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