The candidates vying for the 10th Congressional District seat made cases for their bipartisanship across a range of issues Sunday during a League of Women Voters forum that marked their first face-to-face meeting in front of an audience.
Republican Rep. Robert Dold told a packed auditorium he has been one of the most independent members of Congress since he was elected in 2010. He cited immigration reform, the U.S. relationship with Israel, tax reform, the budget and Medicare and Social Security reform as issues on which he's worked with both parties.
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He also noted going against his party's stance on issues like women's reproductive health and environmental protections for Lake Michigan.
Democratic challenger Brad Schneider argued he was the candidate who would work with both parties to get things done in Washington.
"We need to end the screaming across the aisle," Schneider said in his closing remarks. "We need to find ways to come and work together."
The candidates answered questions submitted by the audience during the forum, which was held at Lake Forest High School. They agreed on supporting the DREAM Act and immigration reform that gives young people a chance to live and work in the only country many have known or find jobs here after college graduation instead of putting their educations to use in their native countries.
They disagreed over the Affordable Care Act. Schneider said the health care reform took the country a big step in the right direction, giving people options for preventive care and wellness care instead of ending up in the emergency room where medical attention ends up costing more.
Dold, though, said the act addressed access to insurance, not quality. He said the way to drive down medical costs is through consumer-driven plans. While a large portion of the country gets its health insurance through employers, Dold said he has talked to business owners who would prefer to pay a required penalty in exchange for sending their employees to find alternatives on the "free market."
"I can think of few things more terrifying than to tell someone they're on their own to get health care," Dold said.
Jeff Battinus, of Buffalo Grove, said the responses to questions that also included topics of gun control, trade agreements and job creation, were much the same as constituents have heard throughout the campaign season. But Battinus, who attended the debate with his wife and 3-month-old daughter, said candidates are avoiding the question of student loan reform.
"We owe about as much on student loans as on our house," Battinus said.
The forum also included debates by state candidates from the 29th Senate District and 58th House race, as well as Lake County Board districts 11, 12, 13 and 21. Lake Forest TV recorded the entire four-hour program.