Guns, jobs, education at forefront of Dold, Schneider forum

Gun control, the economy and the upcoming presidential election were among the topics Sunday when Republican Congressman Bob Dold and Democratic challenger Brad Schneider met for the first time this campaign season during a wide-ranging candidate's forum at Congregation B'Nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield.

Schneider, who held the 10th District Congressional seat before losing it to Dold in 2014, said the most important issue is getting an economy that is working for everyone, "not just the fortunate few."

He said he would focus on helping small businesses and called for tax reform that will level the playing field.

"We can't have companies like GE, who are paying oftentimes zero percent in taxes, and companies like Kraft here in Illinois, who are typically paying 30 percent," said Schneider, a Deerfield resident.

Dold, of Kenilworth, referred to himself as "the only small business owner in this race" and said the government should remove regulatory roadblocks and help small businesses by offering them "smart regulations and tailored regulations."

He said education is a critical component, and cited his support for programs like YouthBuild, a retraining program for youth.

Both said they support gun control measures.

Schneider said during his term in Congress, he called for universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, making trafficking in guns across state lines a federal crime and addressing mental health issues. He said he supports the proposed "No Fly, No Buy" gun bill that would ban the sale of firearms to people on the terrorist watch list.

Dold said he is proud of his record on gun control, such as co-sponsoring legislation on universal background checks and supporting measures to close loopholes that would allow domestic abusers and stalkers access to handguns.

The 10th District includes parts of Cook and Lake counties. It stretches from Lake Michigan into the North and Northwest suburbs.

The forum also featured the two candidates in the 9th Congressional District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Evanston, and Republican challenger Joan McCarthy Lasonde of Wilmette.

Schakowsky said the most important issue today is the upcoming presidential election. Mentioning the diversity of the 9th District, including Mexican-Americans, Muslims and even Syrian refugees, she said, "For these hard working immigrants, it really matters who is the president and, frankly, many are worried about the outcome."

Lasonde called the economy the most important issue in the 9th District, and said the federal government should do more to create a friendly environment for small business.

"Small businesses create 70 percent of new jobs. Yet we have had over 20,000 new regulations in the last seven years alone. We should be making it easier, not harder, to start a business," she said.

The 9th District includes the tip of Chicago and much of the North Shore, then swings out to the Northwest suburbs to parts of Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and Rolling Meadows.

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