6 thoughts from suburban experts on the Clinton-Trump debate

Timothy Schneider is a current Cook County Board member.

Suburban political experts watching the first volatile matchup between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton wanted more substance instead of familiar arguments.

Monday's debate at Hofstra University in New York was a sharp exchange over jobs, racism, and national security with both candidates trading barbs and personal digs. A panel of six local Democrats and Republicans agreed on one thing - there wasn't a dull moment.

Republican analysts include: Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider; former state Sen. Jack Schaffer; and banker Joseph Gomez, an Illinois tollway director. Democrats are: former state Sen. Susan Garrett; Assistant House Majority Leader Elaine Nekritz; and attorney Shawn Collins.

Advantage Clinton

Collins, an award-winning attorney from Naperville, was disappointed the "candidates presented nothing new, either in their plans, or their style.

"(Clinton) was better prepared on the facts, figures and plans. It is largely an appeal to the intellect; she's scoring debate points. She was especially prepared and effective at attacking Trump's troubling unwillingness to release his tax returns and shield himself by use of bankruptcy laws," said Collins, who originally backed Clinton rival Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders,

In terms of body language, Collins thought that "if the race were decided by which candidate can summon up the most unpleasant facial gestures, it would be very tight by that measure, too. These two candidates really do not like each other, and their personal animosity for one another spilled into the discussion constantly. It may make for 'great TV' in the reality TV era, but it's a lousy deal for any American voter hoping to learn something important about who they will vote for and why."

Advantage Trump

Schneider thought despite the jabs, "the debate was pretty evenhanded."

"The part that struck me was that Donald Trump would be a stronger law and order president. I believe that policies enacted under Mayor Rudy Giuliani in New York reduced the number of murders in his city, and I think we need those initiatives in Chicago. We need to solve the problems of the inner city by taking guns away from the gang members, and building better relations with the police and neighborhood residents," said Schneider, a Cook County Board member from Bartlett.

'No defining moment'

"I did not recognize a defining moment," said Gomez of Northfield. "Neither of the candidates seemed to have a more persuasive argument than the other. Trump did stay consistent with his views and Clinton did contradict her position on taxes, jobs creation and urban solutions."

"The lack of any specific solutions by either candidate to the economic and urban issues that face the country was very disappointing. After all, Trump and Clinton have been campaigning for 18 months which seems to be sufficient time to develop some comprehensive solutions or ideas or at the very least propose some programs that would attempt to resolve the important issues that face our nation. The debate was merely a reiteration of the dialogue constituents have been listening to for nearly two years," added Gomez, a senior vice president at Byline Bank.

'On the defensive'

Garrett of Lake Forest thought "Clinton was more on-point and showed composure and a cool, less volatile approach to key issues. Donald Trump was on the defensive and really never recovered after a few questions. In the end though, neither made any major mistakes," said Garrett, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform chairwoman.

'None of the above'

Republican Schaffer said "it was pretty obvious to me that both were playing to their bases. It's probably a good thing the American electoral system doesn't have a 'none of the above' column on the ballot. At this point, I don't think the debate has changed many minds."

In terms of style, Schaffer gave Trump credit for doing "a reasonably good job of trying to make her look like a political person who's been around forever and is responsible for a lot of the problems in the United States. She tried to make him sound like the Mad Hatter," said Schaffer, a former Metra director from Cary

'Nail on the head'

Democrat Nekritz thought Clinton "hit the nail on the head, as she and President Obama and many others have for months now, when she talked at different points about being prepared to be president.

"No person can truly be prepared for the stature of that office. But it's our obligation to elect the candidate with the right temperament, judgment and experience to lead through our challenges and help us progress as a country. That candidate is Clinton, as she showed with her sharp answers to the questions and her pointed criticism of Trump," said Nekritz, a state representative from Northbrook.

Sean Collins
Susan Garrett
Joseph Gomez
Elaine Nekritz
Jack Schaffer
Timothy Schneider
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