About a dozen people gathered to hear from 6th Congressional District candidate Sean Casten at a forum Aug. 14 hosted by the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce.
The Democrat from Downers Grove will face incumbent U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, in November's general election. Casten is a proponent of clean energy and environmental sustainability who co-founded Westmont-based Recycled Energy Development LLC.
Casten also has an educational background in science, biochemistry and engineering.
Audience members asked Casten about his views on immigration, health care, tariffs, taxes, income inequality, the opioid crisis, legalization of marijuana and equal rights in the workplace for women and the LGBT community.
Casten said his background in business has prepared him for a role in Congress.
"Ultimately, like anybody who has had some degree of business success, you learn to make decisions based on fact, no matter how uncomfortable those facts are," he said. "And you try to surround yourself with people of good character. ... I was getting really kind of angry being represented by people who don't make decisions based on facts."
On clean energy, Casten said there are major problems in the government's energy policies, including too many "regulatory barriers to doing the right thing."
"It is maddening to me that our energy policy picks winners," he said. "But as it sits, our coal plants are ready to retire, the nukes are retiring, the hydro is retiring. We have a serious reliability problem in this country if we don't build assets."
Casten's ability to speak about science and environmental problems was a big pro for Crystal Lake resident Trudy Medendorp.
"The environment, the tax bill, energy, health care – all of those are very important to me," she said. "With his terminology and scientific knowledge, I was quite impressed, and I feel like I have research to do now."
Dale Medendorp of Crystal Lake said he also was impressed with Casten's answers.
"That is one of the things I wanted to see," he said. "How he thinks on his feet, where he comes from, where he sees the country going. I learned a lot today."