Lester: Will Roskam debate for first time in 8 years?

Could there be a debate between 6th District U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam and his Democratic opponent for the first time in eight years? A coalition of suburban League of Women Voters groups is pushing hard for one.

Roskam, a Wheaton Republican, and opponent Amanda Howland, a Hawthorn Woods Democrat, were invited on Sept. 2 by a coalition of eight area leagues - which includes chapters from Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Elmhurst, Palatine, McHenry, Downers Grove, Woodridge and Lisle - to speak at its Oct. 16 candidates forum. Howland accepted. Roskam declined, citing a conflict, and hasn't committed to any alternate dates.

<h3 class="leadin">Similar story

Roskam's campaign says it's “in contact” with the league coalition about scheduling, and the leagues have set a deadline of noon Thursday for an answer.

In 2006, Roskam debated opponent Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates three times in his first run for Congress, and he took on Jill Morganthaler of Des Plaines twice in his re-election bid in 2008. Since then, the outspoken Republican who once ranked fourth among House Republican leaders has declined to debate his Democratic opponents.

“As you know, he is regularly available to his constituents on the telephone, at town halls, at meetings around the district, and at his local office,” spokesman David Pasch wrote in an emailed statement.

Candidates in the 46th and 48th Illinois House districts, the 23rd Illinois Senate District, DuPage County Board districts and other races have committed to the forum at the Spring Avenue Recreation Center in Glen Ellyn, with candidates squaring off in half-hour increments between 1 and 5:15 p.m.

<h3 class="leadin">Worse by comparison

A number of Illinois' public universities, including Northern Illinois in DeKalb, Western Illinois in Macomb and Southern Illinois in Carbondale, have lost more enrollment than comparable schools in the Midwest, says the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, which blames the state's financial crisis. NIU had a 5.5 percent drop in students compared to the 2015-16 academic year, Western saw a 6.5 percent drop and SIU-Carbondale a 7.5 percent drop. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had a 1.8 percent increase in enrollment, and Illinois State in Bloomington-Normal saw 1.1 percent growth.

<h3 class="leadin">Swearing in

Rolling Meadows Mayor Tom Rooney will be sworn in as the state's newest senator at 7 p.m. today at Rolling Meadows City Hall with Cook County Judge Marty Kelley officiating. Rooney tells me the two have known each other through the Palatine GOP since before Kelley was a judge or Rooney was mayor. Rooney replaces Matt Murphy of Palatine, who resigned Sept. 15 to join a public affairs firm.

<h3 class="leadin">Dog Den's closing

Lake County Farm Bureau executive director Greg Koeppen made a last stop at The Dog Den in Wheeling. Courtesy of Greg Koeppen

It's the end of an era, as the beloved The Dog Den hot dog stand in Wheeling will close after more than 40 years because owner Dean Doulos has decided to retire.

“I'm 75 years old!” Doulos laughed. “It's time.”

Lake County Farm Bureau Executive Director Greg Koeppen, who passed along the news, says as a teen working on his grandparents' farm in the 1980s and '90s he'd often eat lunch at the Dundee Road spot five times a week, and he still makes regular stops.

The Den's last day in business is today - grab a Chicago dog while you still can.

<h3 class="leadin">New director at Brewers Guild

Congratulations to Danielle D'Allesandro, a Wheaton native who's been named executive director of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild.

D'Allesandro, previously a lobbyist with Strickland and Associates, was involved in passing 2011 legislation that created a way for Illinois craft brewers to distribute their products.

Katie Long, of Naperville, was named the Guild's associate director.

<h3 class="leadin">Peres remembered

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, right, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat shake hands during a meeting at the Gaza International Airport. Peres, a former Israeli president and prime minister, died Wednesday. Associated Press File Photo

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston is one of many recalling former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who died on Wednesday after a stroke.

Schakowsky, whose encounters with Peres include a 2011 dinner at the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Peace in Washington, D.C., cited a favorite quote from Peres: “You are only as great as the cause you serve.”

She noted Peres' cause was peace and his efforts helped lead to the Oslo Accords, which marked the start of a peace process between Israel and Palestine and earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

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