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updated: 3/18/2012 7:31 AM

6th District Democrat hopefuls offer variety

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  • Geoffrey Petzel

    Geoffrey Petzel

  • Leslie Coolidge

    Leslie Coolidge

  • Maureen Yates

    Maureen Yates

  • Video: 6th District candidates


An accountant with an Ivy league education, a retired businesswoman who remembers the Battle of Britain and an environmentalist who survived a recent close call.

Voters in the 6th Congressional District have plenty of choices between Democrats Leslie Coolidge, 52, Maureen Yates, 76, and Geoff Petzel, 28, when they cast their ballots in Tuesday's primary election.

The winner will take on incumbent Republican Congressman Peter Roskam of Wheaton and Independent Khizar Jafri of Wheaton in the November election.

Here's a closer look at the challengers.

• Petzel said a heart attack last summer when he was without insurance led him to run for Congress and make health care reform a central issue.

The Lake Zurich resident owns a development company and is executive director of the Friends of the Fox River.

Asked to describe himself, Petzel said, "I'm concerned about making sure that I do the right thing as far as decisions both politically and professionally. Social service is very important to me."

He was born in Chicago, but his family moved to Carpentersville shortly after. Petzel said his first civic involvement was at age 14 when he fought to save a wooded area from development. After four years of lobbying, the land was saved to become a community park, he said.

Petzel has a bachelor's degree in public administration from Indiana University.

He is married and his wife, Melissa, is a pharmacy benefits management specialist.

• Coolidge's father was a high school history teacher, and she said his activity in collective bargaining rights showed her the power employees can have if they speak with one voice.

She attended high school in San Diego and attained a bachelor's degree in government from Harvard University. She received a master's degree in accounting from New York University.

Coolidge was a partner in KPMG but retired. She now lives in Barrington Hills and has a stepson who is married with a 4-year-old son.

She characterized herself as "a very rational and balanced human being. I think I'm levelheaded, I'm very fair and I like to look at both sides of a question and see what it's all about. I think I'm experienced and all of that comes to bear in running for office."

Coolidge is an equestrian who is on the board of trustees at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and is vice chair on the board of directors of the International Crane Foundation.

• Yates grew up just outside of London but has lived in Barrington for 25 years. She remembers the bombing of London during World War II and said that is one reason she opposes war.

Yates has a bachelor's degree in English from London University and has worked in a variety of careers. These include executive secretary, paralegal, and small business owner. Yates, who is retired, ran a consulting business specializing in flower arrangements and wedding planning.

She has worked as a volunteer at Good Shepherd Hospital and belongs to the Sierra Club, Common Cause, NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union.

She calls herself, "fiery, dedicated and frustrated" (over the political climate).

Yates is married with three children, two stepchildren and five grandchildren.

The 6th Congressional District includes portions of south Lake County, southeast McHenry County, east Kane County, northwest Cook and DuPage County.

Towns in the district include: Lake Zurich, Cary, Algonquin, West Dundee, South Elgin, West Chicago, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, and Lisle.

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