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The candidates for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District, Democrat Marie Newman and Republican Mike Fricilone, took part in a virtual forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on Thursday night.
The two are competing for the district that includes parts of Crest Hill, Homer Glen, Lockport and Romeoville and extends to the southwest side of Chicago.
From the outset, Fricilone, who also serves on the Will County Board, tried to paint Newman as a socialist with views that don’t reflect the district. He said Newman’s progressive stances on health care and the economy “are taken from the most extreme leftist in Washington.”
“They certainly don’t reflect the mainstream values of our community,” he said.
Fricilone also lauded U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, the moderate Democrat Newman defeated in the primary election, as a “common sense” legislator. He said if he were elected, he would join the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, which Lipinski is a member of.
In her opening statement, Newman said she is pushing for “practical solutions” and argued that “name -alling” is “unproductive.”
When asked about health care, Newman decried Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, but also said she wants to see the country transition to a Medicare for All system, which she said will reduce health care costs.
“What we’ll do is prop up ACA and move over in a measured and methodical fashion over to Medicare for All,” she said.
Fricilone said Medicare for All is “not the answer” and argued the cost of a universal government insurance program would significantly increase the federal budget and taxes. He said he’s in favor of a “retool” of the ACA and for continuing protections for those with preexisting conditions and for lowering prescription drug prices.
When asked about how to address systemic racism, Fricilone argued the issue mainly is in the past and that the country has tried to rectify it through policies such as affirmative action.
“I think the problem with racism now is that everybody wants to label people,” he said. “I don’t know why we have to label people with [Black Lives Matter] and all these different scenarios.”
Newman said racism is “a huge problem in our country.” When asked about how to address the civil unrest in response to police brutality against African Americans, she said she supports the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The bill, named for the Black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer earlier this year, includes sweeping changes in police oversight and procedures.
She said she does not support abolishing police departments but instead wants more training and to address inequities in the county’s health care and education systems.
Fricilone criticized Newman for participating in anti-racist protests and claimed she was in favor of defunding the police, an assertion he’s made in the past without evidence.
The two also differ on whether they support doing away with the Electoral College to allow for the popular vote to determine the winner of the presidency.
Fricilone argued for retaining the Electoral College because the country is a republic and not a direct democracy.
“Our founding fathers created a great document,” he said, referring to the U.S. Constitution.
He added the “socialist, progressive movement” wants to “tear that document up and start all from scratch.”
Newman said the Electoral College “needs to be reviewed.”
“Clearly it’s an antique, a relic,” she said.