Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider and Republican challenger Robert Dold talked about the Middle East, health care and other issues before an auditorium filled with would-be voters Tuesday night at Lincolnshire's Stevenson High School.
Instead of a head-to-head debate, however, the 10th House District candidates took the stage separately, fielding questions prepared by Stevenson's Political Action Club and a group called the Mikva Challenge.
They were joined at the event by Democratic state Rep. Carol Sente and Republican challenger Leslie Munger and by Paul Vallas, the Democrat running for lieutenant governor.
Dold and Schneider met briefly outside the theater before the event, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries before each spoke inside.
Schneider, of Deerfield, was the evening's first speaker.
In a quirky move, the student moderators asked questions from bowls marked PBS and HBO. The PBS questions were typical policy questions, while the HBO queries were a bit edgier and occasionally silly.
"I'll start with PBS for 20," Schneider joked when asked to choose his first category.
That first question was about the Affordable Care Act. Schneider, of Deerfield, called the plan's rollout "a disaster" but said problems were fixed quickly.
"Let's keep what works and build upon it," he said.
Other questions concerned the National Security Agency, the affordability of college and minimum wage.
"We need to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years," Schneider said. "Someone who works a full-time job, 40 hours a week, shouldn't live in poverty."
Dold, of Kenilworth, took his turn after Munger and Sente had a chance to talk to the audience. Whereas Schneider answered questions from the stage, Dold walked through the theater as he spoke.
He also criticized Schneider for not agreeing to as many head-to-head debates as he'd prefer.
"I am sorry that we don't have a debate one-on-one up here," said Dold, who served in the House from 2010-2012.
Dold generally let the moderators choose the categories for his questions. One asked him to identify the nation's most urgent civil rights issue, and Dold chose to talk about the need for immigration reform.
Congress needs to "get off its tail and do something, not just talk about something," Dold said of the controversial issue.
The students also asked Dold to rank President Obama's job performance. He said the nation has a "leadership deficit" and gave Obama a C-minus.
Historically independent, the 10th District includes parts of Cook and Lake counties. It stretches from Lake Michigan into the North and Northwest suburbs.
Schneider narrowly defeated Dold in November 2012. He was the first Democrat to win the seat since the 1970s.