Congress' inability to get anything important accomplished has been on the minds of many voters -- and on the minds of the Democrats running for the suburban 10th District seat.
Candidates Vivek Bavda, Brad Schneider, Ilya Sheyman and John Tree spoke about the nation's political divide and partisan bickering in questionnaires for the Daily Herald.
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The winner of the March 20 Democratic primary will face incumbent Republican Robert Dold in the November general election.
Bavda, of Mundelein, said many lawmakers see each other as demons whose beliefs are radically different from theirs. Lawmakers can improve relations by "humanizing each other," he said.
Mandatory congressional retreats might restore trust across the aisle, he said.
"We need to require some time for members to spend time together, to simply be people before congresspeople," he said.
Bavda also objected to the Senate's filibuster power, which allows a block of senators to block votes. He suggested limiting the number of filibusters each senator can implement.
"This way they are used judiciously, allowing minority rights to be upheld without frustrating both sides," Bavda said.
Schneider, of Deerfield, said he would work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find "areas of common interest and common ground."
"I will first seek to find issues where our shared goals provide the opportunity to collaborate, without the need for either side to compromise," he said. "I believe early successes on such issues can then lead to growing confidence and trust between otherwise adversaries and hopefully allow for compromise on broader issues."
But Schneider insisted he wouldn't compromise on his principles.
"It is in these areas where the hardest debates will take place," he said. "But I am confident that people working together with respect and honest dialogue will be able to find (ways) to allow for national progress on even the most difficult of challenges."
Sheyman, of Waukegan, also spoke of compromise, but he said he would not pursue it "just for the sake of compromise."
"We must negotiate in good faith on legislation, but this doesn't mean negotiating away our core values or giving up responsibility to communicate those values clearly and effectively," he said.
Sheyman said he would "draw bright lines" that he would refuse to cross for some issues, such as "any cuts" to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits.
Tree, of Long Grove, has said he decided to run for Congress because he opposed how Tea Party conservatives were changing the country. He called their belief "an extreme agenda" that was distracting Congress from creating new jobs and economic growth.
Although Tree -- like the other candidates -- specifically was asked what he would do to ease partisan gridlock, he gave no examples. But he said he will work with members of both parties "to find the common ground to get things done" if elected to Congress.
"They are putting small business, large business and their employees against each other," he said.
A fifth Democrat, Aloys Rutagwibira of Hainesville, is running a write-in campaign. He did not respond to the Daily Herald's questions.
The 10th District includes parts of Lake and Cook counties.