February 1, 2009
DePaul Student Center
Start Time: 1:00 PM
Candidates are seated. Waiting for Lynn Sweet to begin.
Groundrules: 3-minutes remarks, then Q&A forum.
Candidates’ Opening Remarks:
Tom Geoghegan: Running for congress because “I’ve been fighting for higher wages, pensions for working people.” Benefits are in greater jeopardy today. Bank bailout has made situation worse. Next few years, we’re facing the crack-up of Wall Street and our middle class way of life.
I’m running as an independent Democrat to bring economic security to working people. I think we can turn things around. Proposals:
1. Increase Social Security – increase it so it becomes a real pension.
2. Single Payer National Health – government cuts out huge overhead via premiums to insurance companies and CEOs.
3. Stop throwing money at insolvent banks. Government should take them over. Make people credit-worthy. Banks are charging higher interest rates and ruining credits. Banks should write off debts.
Supports gay marriage.
U.S. has role to ensure Israeli security.
One commitment in professional life – help Americans get financial security they need.
Carlos Montegeudo: Cuban immigrant growing up in poverty and dedicated to public service. Harvard-educated. Worked past 23-years in public sector hospitals.
Running because we need someone other than career politicians to make decisions.
As a psychiatrist, trained to listen hard. Problems are result of needs not being met. Most fundamental need is security (Maslow).
Health care security is number one issue. Single payer is the best pay because it assures affordability and quality. But open to other ways to pay for health care.
Supports gay marriage. This is civil rights we all need to support.
Oslo Accords, security is number one issue for all parties. There are real issues all sides are facing. Need to support process as international community.
1. Create jobs in America
2. Lead by example and end corruption in government
1. Support “made – in – America” tax cuts and end tax cuts for companies who outsource jobs
2. Support universal healthcare coverage
3. Supports gay marriage
4. Supports peace process
Works as physician at Northwestern. Volunteers once per week at Cabrini Green.
Tired to read about corruption in Illinois.
Sara Feigenholtz: Grew up in the 5th District. Mother was an immigrant who put herself through medical school. Father died when young. Sara raised on NW side and showed how good healthcare could be delivered. Had people coming to their house to receive healthcare. This set the bar for Sara.
In Illinois GA oversees health and human services committee. In that committee worked with insurance companies to support preventative medicine and pick-up cost of mammograms for women 40+. Mandatory payments to birth control.
Passed Family Care bill in IL, that gave 200,000 people healthcare (with Barack Obama). Believes in universal healthcare and must give people choices.
As diverse district is, we have common problems – jobs, homes, dwindling pensions.
“I have the leadership to take on this job in Washington.”
Oslo laid the groundwork for peace. Israel ought to protect its borders.
Frank Annunzio: Running on cleaning up government. Power must be returned to people of 5th District.
Qualified because extensive construction experience and in-depth knowledge on federal spending packages.
Government is about to spend largest sum since Great Depression. Will fight to ensure spending will create jobs and restore consumer confidence.
Single-payer, supports whole-heartedly. Believe all Americans should be afforded healthcare.
Civil rights should be afforded to all citizens. Supports gay marriage.
Not a professional politician. Served as an officer in U.S. Navy, pilot for Delta Airlines and served as union rep.
Helped write policy positions for unions.
Is a mom who knows middle class issues.
Money country spends on healthcare continues to skyrocket even as coverage goes down. Supports single-payer system.
Wants full access with mental health protection.
Supports gay marriage.
Oslo Accords – the U.S. should help Israel by assisting in a free, independent Palestine. Supports George Mitchell appointment. Work to support comprehensive peace.
Charlie Wheelan: Running because single-most important issue is the economy. Last Monday, 70,000 people lost their jobs.
Is most uniquely qualified to deal with those issues. Teaches public policy and economic policy at University of Chicago. Does commentary for WBEZ and works for Metropolis 2020.
Believes in equal rights for all, gay marriage.
Supports universal healthcare. Richest country ought to support all people in healthcare.
Oslo, supports two-state solution. Teaches international policy and been on the ground talking to diplomats, governments and NGOs in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Cairo, Beirut, Turkey and Kuwait. We need to look ahead and pick person best for congress.
Roger Thompson: Lifelong 5th District resident.
Economy is on forefront and is a licensed realtor in Chicago. Sees problem with a lot of people losing jobs and can’t make mortgage payments. Will be biggest concern on northside of Chicago. Wants to represent 5th District because is going through challenges that other 5th District residents are going through.
We don’t need people “write books” or existing politicians. Need a true representative of the district.
Need universal healthcare.
Supports gay marriage.
Oslo, written in early 1990s and didn’t finish plan. Believes in two states.
Mike Quigley: 2008 election was about change. Obama persuaded public that change was possible. Was proud to be a delegate in Denver.
If change was and is the issue now, “what have you done for change?” Tribune said that Quigley worked hard to reverse corruption in Cook County.
“I am candidate that has been greatest catalyst for change in State of Illinois.” Fought transparency and accountability in ethics, taxes – like Obama. Called by Chicago Reader as a green champion. Endorsed by Forrest Claypool.
Supports gay marriage. Didn’t back down to Stroger on taxes, TIFs, etc.
Hamas must recognize Israel’s existence.
John Fritchey: Mom was a Moroccan immigrant, divorced and raised by single parent.
Single payer is a moral construct. Healthcare must be affordable and quality and available to everyone. Supports Obama’s plan in getting there. Supported mammogram screening for women. Supported mental health screening.
Have been LGBT supporter and will be unwavering.
Supports Oslo and need to get to two-states.
Is a career politician and is an experienced leader on important issues. Spent four years to change the governor.
Victory Forys: Works with wife as healthcare professionals in district. Wants to fight for change, “real change you can believe in.”
Specific plan to fix the economy.
Knows how to get things done and make things happen.
Will fight for families to bring real change.
Supports civil unions.
Single-payer is not a real option.
Supports Oslo Accords and two states.
Q&A led by Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun Times
Sweet: The House of Representatives just voted on the stimulus bill. The Senate will take up the stimulus. The two versions of the bill will be merged. What is the most important thing in the stimulus bill?
Thompson: Too many issues of people losing homes…
Sweet: Name something specific in the 647 pages of the bill.
Thompson: I’m on page 13 (applause, laughter).
Sweet: Can anybody say anything?
Quigley: Transit. It deals with getting people to work, lessens dependence on foreign oil. Good for the environment. If you can’t get around, you can’t live here.
Fritchey: Need money in first year of stimulus package to help schools.
Feigenholtz: Hospitals are struggling because they can’t get paid. People we know who get human services in 5th Congressional District are stretched to the brink. People are losing jobs and $1 B will go a long way.
Wheelan: Stimulus bill is lousy because too much pork. Transit is spot on, like Quigley said.
Reason we get such pork is we have don’t have explicit transportation goals. We don’t declare what we are spending on. Congress must list goals: air quality…
Define things that we need to do better. Must have measurable outcomes. Then only fund programs that score well.
Bryar: Increase in funding for childhood education and headstart programs. Need $7-10 ROI. Need to increase funding for those education programs.
Sweet: Would you vote for stimulus bill in it’s current form if you’re a Congressman:
Geoghegan: Yes (with reservations and short term stimulus)
Wheelan: Yes (bad stimulus is better than none)
Geoghegan: Tax cuts are there for banks that banks feel working Americans owe them. The stimulus will prevent economy from melting down.
In long-run, have to take over banks and canceling private sector debts. Big problem is private consumer debt. Increasing public sector debt will not solve problem. Need a more fundamental change in policy.
Quigley: Need to rebuild infrastructure, education, technology. Stimulus can help people work short term but also long-term if done right.
Sweet: Bill includes increasing Pell Grants. How will stimulus bill create jobs?
Feigenholtz: Education moves people up the ladder and is lifeblood of workforce. Education needs to accessible for everyone and Pell Grant is key.
Fritchey: Help both short and long-term. Need ability to compete. As a guest in Tawain, they are teaching kids 2-3 languages and we can’t get our kids to read at their age level. Education will keep our kids competitive. Was a recipient of education grants and knows how important they are.
Geoghegan: If universities are piling more debt on students at the time there is too much private debt. If we keep pushing more debt on people, economic situation will worsen. People won’t stop going to universities.
To get economic recovery, we have to pull down debt level and Pell Grants are important in that respect.
Forys: Pell Grants keeps people in school. Money given to students and universities and goes directly to expenditure to whatever universities need.
Wheelan: The most important job for government is creating skills…which lead to jobs. Highly productive people do well in the long-run. Pell Grants are one piece in the relationship for government to provide education from early childhood.
We need a comprehensive strategy for skill building from early childhood to age 55.
Sweet: How would Obama get Republicans to vote for stimulus bill? How important is Republican votes?
Donatelli: Can’t believe no Republicans would support the bill. Thinks the amount of tax cuts should have satisfied Republican Party. Need to spend on infrastructure.
Bryar: There will not be unanimous Democratic support for future bill and there will not be unanimous Republican opposition to future bills. Need to forge a bill that is more agreeable to both advertising.
Fritchey: I have a history of working across party lines – pay to play and school prayer. If we can build consensus, do it. But never shy away from who we are as Democrats and reaching our goals (applause).
Quigley: Dealing with PR issue now and is critical over the long term. Obama did all he could do. Republicans said nothing on TARP fiasco. Almost 1/3 of County Board is Republican and works across party lines. Bipartisan support helped Cook County reforms.
Sweet: Do you support “buy American provision?”
Annunzio: Wouldn’t support current bill because the amount of dollars going towards infrastructure. Make sure middle class people in trades and construction, with help of unions, to make middle class strong.
Wheelan: It’s well-meaning but ineffective part of stimulus. If you have to buy steel, is 20 percent more expensive, then getting done what we need to get done will be more expensive.
It’s also hard to determine what is made in America. Government should decide what to do and do it as cheaply and efficiently as possible.
Forys: It will increase velocity of money leaving the U.S. If something costs more, that’s ok. We have to put money in Americans’ pockets.
Geoghegan: Seen too many companies go belly-up. Buy-American provisions won’t work. Government providing real healthcare and real pensions will help Americans compete effectively and globally. Buy-American is smoke and mirrors for government to deal with issues that will make Americans more competitive.
Donatelli: As a union member, supports buy-American. Twenty years ago, people cared about low cost. Now we don’t have enough domestic production because jobs went overseas. We’ve had dramatic problems with imported products, especially food. Keep jobs at home! (applause)
Sweet: Do you support earmarks?
Feigenholtz: Incumbent upon legislators to be sensitive to needs in specific communities. If elected, would support earmarks in a broad way. At the end of the day, it’s about getting things done. That’s my track record.
Thompson: Cut out earmarks because they aren’t transparent.
Sweet: If Children’s Memorial needed money for specific initiative, would you support earmarks if it was the only way to get money?
Quigley: Job of legislator is to help district. Difference between helping residents with stuff the need and earmarks that are pork.
Fritchey: Have put requested earmarks on website and blog for years. Defends earmarks.
Wheelan: If I gave you $500,000 for Old Town School of Folk Music, it’s because I cut a deal that the other members of Congress got pork too. Then, we’re all paying for it. Give up on the illusion we’re getting a great deal because we’re paying for it anyway. (applause)
Geoghegan: Because anyone elected will be a freshman, we have an interest in bringing home earmarks.
This state is known for corruption. That’s half-way to pay to play. We have a moral obligation to crusade against corruption. We should get rid of earmark system and decide on projects based on merits.
Forys: Discretionary spending is important and will not end. If you believe you have to cut deals, then you don’t belong in Congress, belong in jail.
Bryar: In favor for bringing federal government resources to 5th District. Need to have a regional system where proposals can be submitted and judged on their merits.
Annunzio: Reality is there are a lot of different ways to approach earmarks. Should be looked at, at more transparent basis. Need reforms and we as a nation have to demand that.
Sweet: On Iraq war…
Quigley: Favors Obama’s thought of moving forward. During any wartime, any administrations can be vindictive on past administrations. Those can be investigaged if they’re notorious.
Wheelan: Don’t look back unless specific allegation is a real issue. We have too many problems and that’s where we need to focus. Would serve democracy poorly if went after allegations that haven’t already arisen.
Feigenholtz: If we don’t look at history, and I was not a proponent of the war, then we are vulnerable to it happening again.
Annunzio: Atrocities by previous administration has garnered international support for war crimes. Did Obama close Guantanomo for no reason?
Bryar: Do need to ID where we went wrong, especially when it comes to civil rights. This is a time to unite and repair our world image.
Donatelli: U.S. doesn’t agree to participate in “war crimes” criminal court. Believes U.S. need national commission to investigate Iraq war crimes. (large applause). Created illegal situation in Guantanamo and violated Geneva Conventions.
Forys: Looking back is important. We’re a country of laws and people need to be held accountable.
Fritchey: If we want people around the world to believe in change, then we need to make change at home. This is a moral issue of what is just and right. We need to be held accountable so the rest of the world has confidence in us.
Geoghegan: This was a stupid and murderous war. Suggests:
U.S. adopts criminal court treaty. Then, have an obligation to determine if war crimes were committed. Need to create record next steps to take. Adivses former members of Bush Administration not travel to foreign countries.
Monteagudo: South African war crimes tribunal is a good model to reconcile the crimes committed in Iraq. In favor of some looking back at criminal activity.
Thompson: Need to learn from mistakes.
Sweet: Have anyone had any questions about Rahm Emmanuel coming back to claim his seat after he serves as Chief of Staff?
Thompson: Finds it’s funny that this seat is considered “Rahm Emmanuel’s seat.”
Fritchey: Told Emmanuel that he was interested in running. Told Fritchey that he’d be interested in running again for that seat one day. Fritchey said he’d look forward to running against him (laughter).
Sweet: One of leaders on immigration issue is Luis Gutierrez. Would you support his immigration bill?
Feigenholtz: Supports Gutierrez’s effort. There’s a very human face to this. We get calls on this issue at her office all the time. In IL GA, proud to be sponsor of ID Bill that would allow people to get licenses. Supports a path to citizenship.
Annunzio: Fully supports the bill.
Sweet: How would you get bipartisan solution?
Forys: Immigration is an economic issue as well. They’re saving instead of spending. People are afraid to buy homes because they’re here illegally. If we legalize the 12 million here illegally, it will cause an economic stimulus.
Wheelan: There is a logical constituency among Republicans focused on small business. Almost saw with McCain-Kennedy, that there is strong support for this type of legislation. There is a wing of the Republican Party who understands the importance of immigrant-labor community.
Geoghegan: Bring Democrats more together on this issue. Bring path to citizenship together with rising minimum wage that would eliminate sweatshop like conditions that attracts undocumented immigrants.
Donatelli: National defense and border security is a valid concern. Need to boost funding for that part of the bill. Need to improve visa system to keep better accounting of who is here.
Sweet: Has anyone directly or indirectly had anything to do with the petition challenges in this contest.
Quigley: I’d like to know that too (laughter).
Bryar: I would suggest looking into signatures that are coming from outside the district.
Wheelan: Signatures of his wife and neighbors signatures challenge. Nearly everytime an independent judge ruled in favor, the other side objected. Question: if you lose the challenge, should there be accountability to other side?
Sweet: The House on Jan. 9, defended Israel to defend itself from attacks from Hamas. Should foreign aid to Israel be at higher levels than now?
Annunzio: Difficulties with Israel are not with Israel itself. Hopes there is some kind of resolution. Bottom line is terrorist still holding us hostage to negotiations. No additional funding until peace.
Bryar: Foreign aid for Israel is important and support request to secure their borders. As long as both parties involved know 2 states solutions are the goal, then support.
Donatelli: Need to assess Israel’s needs. Need to spend dollars in our diplomatic effort. That’s where concentration of dollars should go.
Feigenholtz: issues in Middle east are more complex when Israel defends itself. Supports further increases in aid.
Forys: Israel is an ally and should stand by allies. U.S. spends little on foreign aid. If Israel need foreign aid, then they should get it.
Fritchey: If we’re helping Israel, then we need to help other countries with foreign aid. Economic hardships lead to extreme action.
Geoghegan: In favor of keeping aid to Israel at the same. Hoping to see specific need for incremental increase.
Quigley: Without U.S. aid, it is unlikely that Israel would exist. Nobody mentioned Iran. Greater danger to entire region is Iran. Supports higher aid to Israel.
Thompson: Increase aid to Israel. Keep working on Oslo Accords.
Wheelan: I have an Israel paper on my website. I support current and higher aid to Israel. Israel needs to make compromises if they feel secure.