The interrelationship of job production, health care reform and tax code changes in improving citizens' lives was at the heart of a League of Women Voters forum for the three Democratic candidates in the 6th Congressional District race Saturday at Palatine village hall.
Barrington Hills accountant Leslie Coolidge, Lake Zurich business owner Geoff Petzel and retired Barrington businesswoman Maureen Yates are vying in the March 20 primary for the chance to take on Republican incumbent Peter Roskam in the fall.
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Though all three expressed strong disapproval of Roskam's leadership, each made the case for their particular strengths leading to his defeat in the general election.
Coolidge, 52, said her professional experience and support in the community made her the best opponent for Roskam.
Petzel, 28, countered that he alone had the personality and drive not only to take on Roskam's attacks but to be effective on Day One of the job due to his prior work on legislative issues.
Yates, 76, argued for her independence of mind as a stark contrast to an incumbent she said does only what his party tells him.
In terms of balancing the federal budget, Petzel said the country needs to increase revenues as well as taking a hatchet to military spending and a scalpel to social programs.
Yates said closing tax loopholes for large corporations and fixing other egregious errors in the system are as important as fighting off the threats to social security. She added that most of her ideas are already in President Barack Obama's proposals, which only need more Congressional support.
Coolidge said efforts to get the economy moving again will help the budget by raising the tax base. Any reform of the tax code needs to require the wealthy to pay more, something she said many wealthy people agree with.
Health care was the most prominent topic of the forum, with Petzel saying his campaign was inspired by the heart attack he suffered last August after letting his medical insurance lapse for financial reasons.
He said he favored a single-payer health care system that could cover all Americans and which would help every sector of the health care industry.
Coolidge said she was not convinced that a single-payer system is the way to go, but does support the promise of universal health care.
Yates' response was largely the opposite, feeling that universal health care is unsustainable but that a single-payer system is essential. She said the challenge would be the transition to a single-payer system from today's reality which so many insurance companies profit from and are invested in its continuation.