A group of local League of Women Voters chapters held a candidate forum on Monday night for those running for Illinois’ 6th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Incumbent Democrat Sean Casten of Downers Grove, Republican candidate Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, and Libertarian candidate Bill Redpath of West Dundee joined moderator Jan Dorner for the virtual event.
Questions From Community
Questions were collected from community members before the forum. They covered a broad range of topics, many touching on timely issues, such as COVID-19. When asked whether the pandemic had changed their thoughts on universally available health insurance, the candidates differed.
Candidate Stance on Health Insurance
Ives suggested that putting people back to work would allow them to regain insurance coverage through their employer.
“The way to do this is to actually ramp up more businesses,” said Ives. “That’s what we need to do, we need to open up the economy so that people can get back to work and get that same healthcare coverage that they’re used to getting from their employer. There’s been nothing more beneficial than getting it that way. In the meantime though, the way to solve the healthcare crisis is not to go to universal healthcare.”
Redpath said having employers providing health insurance coverage was an antiquated system, in need of reform.
“We need to eliminate tax preferences on health care to again cut the link between health insurance and employment,” said Redpath. “We need to move toward a system where people are paying more of their low level health care expenditures. We need greater health savings accounts. We need to move to a system where people contribute to their health savings accounts to pay for small dollar items and then purchase catastrophic insurance and return insurance to a real insurance role in our health care system.”
Casten touted the track record of countries with universal healthcare, and says it’s necessary for our country.
“We have both a moral obligation and an economic incentive to get to universal healthcare as quick as we can,” said Casten. “But we’ve got to separate these things – government provided health care is not the same as universal health care, single payer is not the same as universal health care. Every single country that has universal health care spends less than we do per capita on health care.”
Excessive Police Force
Candidates also had some differences in their thoughts about how to best address the underlying causes of recent incidents of excessive police force against people of color causing injury or death.
Redpath suggested the reform or end of qualified immunity, but said there was another issue that needed to be handled.
“The war on drugs has absolutely fueled violence in this society for decades. At the end of alcohol prohibition, I should say federal alcohol prohibition in 1933, the per capita murder rate in this nation went down for 11 consecutive years. The same thing would happen again with the end of the war on drugs,” said Redpath, adding, “that is the one thing more than any sort of gun control legislation or anything else, that is the one thing that would make the streets in this nation far safer for sure.”
Casten agreed with Redpath’s stance on qualified immunity.
“Bill I agree with you we need to get rid of qualified immunity,” said Casten. “But we also need to make sure that we need to have a police force to protect us, we need to have someone you call when no one else is available. But we also need to recognize that as long as we have people on the street who have the authority to use deadly coercive force, there has to be accountability.”
Ives said reform is needed, but law enforcement is key.
“The rule of law again, like I said, is preeminent in solving this issue,” said Ives. She added, “We need them (police) out doing their jobs, they need to be respected. And we need our leaders to have a sense of civility, and a sense of, you know what, we’re not going to take it anymore. We’ll stand right in front of that store, and if you’re gonna throw a brick you’re throwing it at me first. That’s the level of consideration we have to have for our shop owners, our individuals on our streets.”
The full forum is available to view on the League of Women Voters’ Youtube page.
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