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Election

Rep. Peter Roskam will again miss League of Women Voters candidate forum

Peter Roskam
Peter Roskam

Longtime U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam will likely miss another local League of Women Voters candidate forum, but he says he's looking forward "to continuing that discussion."

Roskam, R-Wheaton, was originally voted into office in 2006, defeating opponent and current U.S. Senator candidate Tammy Duckworth; he then won re-election in 2008 over Jill Morganthaler.

Since then, according to several League of Women Voters groups in Roskam's 6th Congressional District, he has not appeared at their forums for a debate, and he will not be attending this year's forum scheduled for Oct. 16.

"We are greatly disappointed that he is not attending," said Gail Kalinich of the Glen Ellyn league in an email. "We have asked him for [to let us know about] any events he will be attending that are either free, open to public, allow for questions, nonpartisan, or with his opponent. We do not believe there are any, and he has not responded."

This year, a variety of Leagues from around the area banded together to try to get all local candidates to show up – something incumbents and those running for higher office are often guilty of avoiding, according to organizers

The league's rule to limit candidates to public statements when their opposition doesn't attend gives a natural advantage to incumbents, said Patti Lackman, the voter service chair of the league in central Kane County in an earlier interview.

"With the League's empty chair debate policy, the person that is the incumbent has nothing to lose by not showing up, and it severely handicaps the challenger because they can't participate," she said. "Voters don't get an opportunity to hear what people think and what their opinions are on these things."

According to the League of Women Voters, Roskam's campaign missed deadlines for responding before declining and did not offer any alternate dates to attend a separate forum despite requests to do so.

Amanda Howland, his Democratic challenger, will get a window of time to make statements to the public and will be available to meet voters after the forum.

Roskam confirmed he received an invitation, but had a scheduling conflict that evening. He said he "welcome[d] the chance to be in discussion with them" about future attendance.

He added that he believes his constituents were happy with his level of visibility and accessibility in the community, touting telephone town hall meetings reaching potentially thousands of voter over a conference call.

"I make it a priority to get into as many companies, schools, not-for-profits and other organizations as possible," he said. "I am doing my civic duty by communicating what my positions are and being very forthright with [voters]."

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