Can political newcomer Lasonde unseat Schakowsky?

A political newcomer will try to unseat a political veteran in the U.S. House of Representatives next month.

Republican Joan McCarthy Lasonde, 50, of Wilmette, is challenging incumbent Democrat Jan Schakowsky, of Evanston, in the 9th Congressional District.

Lasonde is a former advertising executive and mother of three, including a 7-year-old foster daughter. She's been involved in her community all her life, but this is the first time she's run for office. She favors simplifying the tax code, reducing access to assault weapons, allowing school choice and vouchers, and revising, not repealing, the Affordable Care Act. She said the U.S. has no obligation to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement.

Schakowsky, 72, has represented the 9th District for 17 years. Her priorities include raising the minimum wage, background checks for gun purchases, and changing the tax code to end tax benefits for companies shifting profits overseas, reward businesses that stay in the U.S. and end tax breaks for capital gains and dividends.

She has introduced bills to add a public option for those insured under the Affordable Care Act and to reduce monopolies for high-priced drugs.

One main area where the candidates disagree is on the number of Syrian refugees that should be allowed into the U.S. Schakowsky wants to allow 100,000 Syrians to enter, saying the vetting process is very thorough. Lasonde believes the number should be capped at 10,000.

While both candidates say they are pro-Israel, Lasonde opposes the Iran nuclear deal, saying it will funnel money to terrorists. Schakowsky, who is Jewish, supported the deal.

She admits it's not perfect but says there was not a better deal to be had, and that it stopped a threat of nuclear war.

The U-shaped 9th Congressional District goes as far south as Lincoln Park, up the North Shore to Winnetka, and out to some of the Northwest suburbs, including Park Ridge, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and Arlington Heights.

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