Hot races in the Northwest suburbs
Voters in the Northwest suburbs will travel to the polls Tuesday to pick who will represent them at the county, state and congressional levels. Here's a look at four of the hottest races voters will be deciding:
10th Congressional District
The race for Illinois' 10th District seat in Congress is a rematch of the 2012 election, pitting Democrat Brad Schneider of Deerfield against Republican Robert Dold of Kenilworth.
Two years ago, Dold was the freshman incumbent and Schneider was the challenger. Those roles are reversed this time around, thanks to Schneider's narrow victory in 2012.
The candidates have a lot in common. They've both complained about the political gridlock in Washington, D.C., they both believe the U.S. relationship with Israel is critically important and they both see good and bad things in the Affordable Care Act, among other issues.
Dold, however, voted four times to repeal that health care reform law when he was in Congress -- and Schneider has pointed that out time after time during the campaign. Schneider also has blasted Dold on the environment, criticizing votes the Republican made and touting his own endorsements from environmental groups.
Dold's been on the offensive, too, saying Schneider hasn't accomplished much during his two years in office. And when pressed on the Affordable Care Act, Dold said most of his votes on the law would have improved the legislation.
Although Dold has said he supports a woman's right to have an abortion, he has voiced support for certain limitations on the procedure. Schneider's taken a whack at him over that as well.
The 10th District includes parts of Cook and Lake counties. It stretches from Lake Michigan into the North and Northwest suburbs.
55th state House District
One of the state's most closely watched political contests this fall lies in the 55th state House District, taking in parts of Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Elk Grove Village. It's considered by many to be neither Democratic blue nor Republican red, but rather a politically "purple" district.
Incumbent Democrat Marty Moylan and Republican challenger Mel Thillens have argued over who is the real fiscal conservative in the race.
Moylan, a first-term legislator and former mayor of Des Plaines, points to his opposition to a state income tax increase extension, his refusal to accept $3,100 when legislators decided not to take furlough days this year, and his record as former Des Plaines mayor, holding the line on property taxes and eliminating city positions.
Thillens, the Park Ridge park board president and vice president of the Chicago armored truck company that bears his family name, says the state needs to improve its business climate by cutting red tape in licensing and regulations, and lowering taxes.
Moylan supports an increase in the state minimum wage to $10 an hour; Thillens believes the issue should be decided on the federal level.
Moylan voted for pension reform legislation; Thillens opposes it, favoring a bigger change to a 401(k)-style retirement plan for current employees instead.
56th state House District
Campaign contributions from both political parties were still pouring into the state's 56th District during the final week leading up to the election, but both Democratic incumbent Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg and crosstown Republican challenger Jim Moynihan prefer to define their differences as those of individuals.
Some of their disagreements do fall along party lines, however. Mussman believes the pension reform bill she voted for will hold up in court, while Moynihan says it won't and that time is being wasted coming up with a necessary Plan B.
Both candidates share concerns for residents' rising property taxes but are perplexed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's call for a property tax freeze.
Moynihan believes that getting the state's own financial house in order and restoring proper levels of state aid to local governments is the best way to keep local property taxes from rising.
Mussman said she is open to any ideas that may come forward on how to get a grip on property taxes but is concerned that any increase in the state's authority could be at the expense of local control for local services.
The 56th District includes Schaumburg and portions of Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Bartlett, Hanover Park, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Roselle.
59th state House District
State party leaders, as well as special interests, have poured thousands of dollars into the campaigns of incumbent Democrat Carol Sente and Republican challenger Leslie Munger, helping to fund robocalls, negative mailers and TV ads.
The race for the 59th House District seat has been a bitter battle between Sente, who paints herself as a fiscal conservative and social moderate, and Munger, a first-time political candidate who says the state should loosen its business regulations and cut spending.
Sente, of Vernon Hills, who was appointed to the seat in 2009 and elected in 2010 and 2012, says she's an independent who voted against the 2011 income tax increase, supports its sunset in 2015 and opposes a so-called millionaire tax and progressive income tax proposal.
Munger, of Lincolnshire, a former marketing executive at Helene Curtis, has tried to tie her opponent to powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan, arguing that despite her protestations of independence, Sente is "chained at the hip" with him.
The 59th District takes in portions of Buffalo Grove, Gurnee, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Long Grove, Mundelein, Vernon Hills and Wheeling.
• Daily Herald staff writers Christopher Placek, Eric Peterson and Mick Zawislak contributed to this report.