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[This photo was taken as part of iReport's Persona series in 2011. Read more about it here.]
IT guru Egberto Willies of Kingwood, Texas, is perhaps one of our most prolific iReport commentators. An active member of the community since 2008, he can be seen offering his thoughts on video – and following up with a deep-dive on the issue at hand in the comments section – almost every single day. In addition to commenting on the national debate of the moment, he also regularly reports on local events in his area, and even participated in a year-long iReport project in 2010 tracking the state of the economy.
Even those who strongly disagree with him respect his integrity and moxie, which is why he’s our pick for Pundit of the Week.
Affiliations: “I am registered as a Democrat, but I’ve never voted straight-ticket in my life. I vote [for] the person. … My most important issue, bar none, is healthcare. We are the only country in the industrialized world without some kind of universal healthcare. I think it’s a human right, and I can’t understand why there’s so much resistance to taking care of each other. I think it’s sad, and even morally reprehensible.”
When did you get interested in politics?
“From the time I was in college. I went to the University of Texas, Austin, and joined the South African Liberation Action Committee; we worked to have universities and businesses divest from trade with South Africa until apartheid ended. When I joined corporate America and started my family, I began to tone my real-life activism down a little bit and got involved in heavily in online blogging.”
Why do you share your opinion on iReport?
“When there’s real news going on in the world, the fly-by-night networks drop their coverage and everyone tunes in to see what CNN is doing. And CNN gives two things to the iReporter: The CNN name, the cred of being approved for use on CNN web or TV, and the environment for debate. Even though many users might disagree with me and beat up on me a little, most of them are pretty darn intelligent, and you get a lot of great debate.”
Who is your political or journalistic hero?
“For the old-school, definitely Walter Cronkite. He had such gravitas. When it comes to the newer guys, most of them aren’t on TV. When I look at the factual basis for the work of [newspaper columnists] Paul Krugman and E.J. Dionne, and the analysis that these guys do in a 750-word piece, you wonder how this country could end up so misinformed and confused on issues like healthcare.”
What is going to be the defining issue of the 2012 election?
“People are saying that it’s going to be all about numbers, like the economy and unemployment, but I think that this election is going to fool everybody. I think this is going to be an ideological election about what kind of country we want for the future. The Occupy movement and the 99% are going to be the wildcard, if they manage to bring their issues to the discussion, maybe we’ll finally have a debate in this country about things like wealth disparity, and the structural defects in the way we define the economy.”
What’s something people might be interested in learning about you?
“When I was in college, making pizza helped put me through college; throwing the dough up in the air and spinning it, the real Italian way, just like the classic chefs do! I was a real pizza guy in the olden days.”
Follow Willies here, and watch your customizable homepage fill up with his smart, timely commentary. And if you’ve been hankering for a chance to add your voice to the mix and put your opinions out there, now’s your chance: Join the debate.
Congratulations!!! I always enjoy your iReports.
I Think willes is a good guy and we should all respect his ideas and what he says never no if that little idea can change the world complete we shoud hear eachother
Congratulations keep up the great work.
I truely do believe we all should work to take care of each other.. But Universal health insurance is not the way to go because health insurance is not health care and is the biggest barrier to accessing healthcare.
Sure wish I had kept my original CNN iReport account.. The next story would be about me. Oh Well.. Life goes on..
Always enjoy your iReports. Congrats, Egberto. :o)
I always love your iReports and find myself nodding and yes-yes-yessing along. Thanks for being creative, courageous, and thoughtful. You are quite deserving of CNN's spotlight! And you prove again and again that not all us Texans are backwards-thinking, which is just a bonus...
Congrats on Pundit of the Week.