Illinois 17th Congressional District opponents threw accusations back and forth Sunday night at one of the few face-to-face forums planned in the heated race.
Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., and his opponent Democrat Cheri Bustos drew intense reactions from the Black Hawk College crowd that seemed equally divided in its support of each candidate. The Greater Quad-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, along with Black Hawk College’s Student Democrats and Student Republicans, sponsored the 2 1/2-hour event.
Schilling emphasized that Republicans and Democrats need to work together, focusing on the need to “get the boot off the throat of job creators.”
Bustos, who discussed her years as a journalist at the Quad-City Times, said she “went in every day to the newsroom looking out for the little guy.” She said Schilling votes with his party 92 percent of the time.
When Bustos accused Schilling of sending jobs overseas, he in turn accused her of investing in overseas mutual funds.
When Bustos said Schilling is part of a dysfunctional Congress, he said the leadership in the Senate where Democrats hold a slim majority is dysfunctional.
Both agreed that health care reforms are needed, and both discussed losing loved ones who were critically ill.
Also, both agreed that children should be able to stay on their
parents’ health care insurance until age 26, as allowed by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
The two shook hands at the end of the forum.
Greg Aguilar, co-chairperson for the political forum with Maria Mier Llaca, worked with the Black Hawk College political clubs to get them involved.
“We as American voters must inform ourselves about where our candidates stand on the issues that matter to us, and the Greater Quad-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce forum will help the voters do exactly that,” Aguilar said.
Christopher Whitt, professor at Augustana College, Rock Island, served as the moderator, asking questions provided by Black Hawk students. Under the format, each candidate had limited time to answer questions and rebut the opponent’s comments.
Alvaro C. Macias, events chairperson for the chamber, was pleased at the turnout. “For us, it’s about getting young people and Latinos involved in politics,” he said. “And also with the power in business and spending that we have — the Latino dollar — we have a responsibility to practice our civic duty of voting and influencing policy.”
Other candidates who answered questions included:
n For State Senate District 36: Ill. Sen. Mike Jacobs, a Democrat, and Bill Albracht, Republican.
n For State Representative District 71: Republican State Rep. Rich Morthland and Democrat Mike Smiddy.
n For State Representative District 72: Democrat Rep. Pat Verschoore and Republican Neil Anderson.
n For state’s attorney: Democrat John McGehee and Republican Jim Wozniak.
Rock Island County candidates included Superintendent of Schools candidate Tammy Muerhoff; coroner candidates Brian Gustafson, a Democrat, and Marc Ramirez, a Republican; circuit clerk candidate Lisa Bierman, a Democrat; auditor April Palmer, a Democrat; recorder candidates Kelly Fisher, Democrat, and Tony Holland, Republican.