9th House District candidates spar on health care, climate, guns

  • Republican Sargis Sangari is challenging Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky in the 9th Congressional District.

    Republican Sargis Sangari is challenging Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky in the 9th Congressional District.

Updated 9/11/2020 7:14 PM

Health care, foreign policy, climate change and guns were among the topics discussed this week in a Daily Herald endorsement interview with candidates running to represent the 9th Congressional District.

The race pits longtime Democratic incumbent Jan Schakowsky against Republican challenger Sargis Sangari.


Schakowsky said she is proud of her role in the passage of the Affordable Health Care Act.

"I believe that every American, every person in the United States, should have the right -- not the privilege -- the right to health care, affordable accessible health care," she said.

She said she supports adding a public option, allowing people to choose "a Medicare-like option when they go onto the exchange" to sign up for insurance.

Said Sangari, a retired Army lieutenant colonel: "I was never a fan of the ACA. I thought it was just large government. I don't think it was well thought out. But with that said, the constituents in my district like it."

He said he would work to keep what works and get rid of what doesn't.

Addressing the standing of the U.S. on the world stage, Schakowsky bemoaned President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, as well as his criticism of the World Health Organization. She also said Trump has enabled authoritarian regimes.

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"So for most of my adult life, the United States was looked to as a beacon of democracy, a country that would lead in negotiations, that would make alliances around the world to create more peace, and I think that that has actually disappeared."

Sangari -- who is still active in foreign affairs through the Near East Center for Strategic Engagement, a think tank he founded -- said Trump's actions on the foreign policy front have promoted peace.

"I can only just look at the reality on the ground that there's actually more peace on the ground in the Middle East," he said. "A lot of the Asian countries that were initially in the hemisphere of China have turned against China because they're not happy with what China has been doing."

He also said he supported pulling out of the Paris and Iran agreements, calling the latter "a disaster" that was basically an economic deal.


On the issue of climate change, Schakowsky said: "I think the problem of climate change is existential. It is the question of whether or not human life will be able to survive on this planet."

Sangari said the solution is to bring scientists from both sides of the climate issue together. He said the United States has already made technological advances in bringing carbon emissions under control and he supports free market approaches.

Schakowsky said she supports such gun control measures as universal background checks. She also said, referring to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, "We have to, I think, even limit the amount of weapons that the police carry at times for certain calls."

Sangari said there should be enforcement of existing laws. "If you use a gun in committing a crime, you go to jail. How about enforcing that?"

The 9th District covers much of the North Shore but also stretches into Des Plaines and Park Ridge.

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