Three Democratic candidates seeking to replace incumbent 6th District Congressman Republican Peter Roskam attended a forum at the Palatine Village Hall Saturday.
Barrington resident Maureen Yates, Leslie Coolidge of Barrington Hills and Geoffrey Petzel of Lake Zurich are running in the March 20 primary. The winner will take on Roskam, who has held the 6th District seat since 2007, in the November general election.
The 6th Congressional District includes most of Algonquin.
Questions posed to the candidates ranged from what their stance is on the budget and tax reform, military policy and spending, and where their beliefs lie regarding universal health care.
The first topic related to the single-payer health insurance system, where delivery of care remains largely private and all Americans are covered for medically necessary services, according to the Physicians for a National Health Program website.
“I support universal health care to have every American covered, but I am not convinced the single payer system is the answer,” said Coolidge. “The president has taken a first step in the right direction but we need to move faster to get people covered.”
Petzel, who said he joined the race in part after suffering a major heart attack during a lapse in his health insurance, said congress needs to focus on instituting a single-payer system.
“Every American needs coverage and we need to lower costs for businesses and employees thus reducing the Medicare burden on states,” Petzel said.
“If we don’t move toward a single-payer health care system, Medicare and Medicaid will continue to hurt the federal budget and ensure all citizens do not have coverage,” he added.
Yates agreed with the need for the single-payer system, stating it is essential for cutting medical costs absorbed currently by the federal system.
“But how do we combat the large healthcare companies making millions off the current system,” Yates asked. “I believe each state should make its own decisions, a universally managed system is too big to manage.”
The issue of job creation and fortifying the national economy also was discussed.
“It starts with tax incentives for job creation; tax increases in the state burden Illinoisans and if rates are lowered it will bring jobs and improve the economy,” Petzel said. “Meanwhile we need to take a hatchet to the military budget and a scalpel to non-essential programs.”
Coolidge agreed job creation must be one of the major issues at the forefront to aid the current economy.
“In addition to jobs, we have to focus on infrastructure, education and investing in our future-we need to help business grow by extending tax credits,” Coolidge said. “We also need to look at the military budget and Medicare fraud.”
“A priority for America has to be to stop the Afghan war-this is war we can’t win and we would save millions,” Yates said. “We also need to cut tax loopholes for big companies and cut subsidies.”
The role of the military and the defense budget was a topic addressed by all of the candidates.
“Our borders are not completely secured, we need to have the money here to protect our people-the budget for all the wars we have created is enormous and wrong,” Yates said.
“We are winding down two wars I wouldn’t have supported. We have the opportunity to reduce our defense budget and we should focus more
on diplomacy and restoring the respect of this country around the world,”
“We need to re-define what our military is; its purpose should be to stop bad things from happening and protect ourselves,” Petzel said. “I don’t think overthrowing a government is the right way to do that-we should be focused on diplomatic over military solutions.”
Each of the candidates agreed tax reform is needed.
“The current (tax) code is unfair and overly complicated-one of my absolute goals is a fundamental reform,” Coolidge said. “We must ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.”
“We need to let the Bush tax cuts expire and not renew them, close loopholes for major corporate tax codes and cut taxes in half for
manufacturers that invest in this county and grow American workers-importing jobs back to America,” Petzel said.
“Providing incentives for companies to come back to America and for those who refuse to leave our country is where I would start,” Yates said.
At the conclusion of the forum, each candidate gave their closing statement.
Yates, who has worked for 29 years at a not-for-profit organization, said Roskam is beatable because he does not exhibit freedom of choice, stating that his voting record is based on what his party tells him to do.
“I will not be in congress for moneymaking schemes-I will represent you because I am so concerned about things are going in this country,” Yates said.
Coolidge, a certified public accountant, who said she has received endorsements from the AFL-CIO, Illinois State Association of Letter Carriers
and Illinois Federation of Teachers, said voters need to take their time to get to know the candidates, and make sure their congressional representative, are indeed representing them.
“I believe I have the ability to beat Peter Roskam, who does not represent his district. I have substantial support behind me,” Coolidge said.
Petzel, who is a small business owner and executive director of a regional nonprofit, said Roskam is beatable in the November election and the decision for voters on who will face him is an important one.
“We also have to decide who will be effective when they get to congress. I have the drive and personality to be successful, and can walk in on day one and make a difference,” Petzel said. “I have worked on and written legislation and worked on many issues.”