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11th Congressional District, Democratic Primary

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The questions

All candidates were invited to respond to questionnaires, although not all chose to participate. Click on a candidate's name to see the unedited response to each question.

Biographical information & experience
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    Foster
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    Hickey
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    Thomas
Foster
Birthdate: 10/7/1955
Occupation:
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Aesook Byon

Education:

B.A., Physics from University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1976, with Honors, Phi Beta Kappa; Ph.D, Physics, Harvard University, 1984; Ph.D Thesis: An Experimental Limit on Proton Decay

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

I am a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and an elected fellow of the American Physical Society. For many years I served on the board of the Batavia Foundation for Education Excellence, an organization dedicated to enhancing the public schools in Batavia, IL. I currently serve on the Governing Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, but will go on leave from that Board during my campaign and time in office.

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

U.S. House of Representatives, March 2008- January 2011.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

I worked for 22 years at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, IL. My wife also worked at Fermilab and for the Department of Energy, and now works for Brookhaven National Laboratory. My daughter Christine formerly worked for an educational software company in Palo Alto, CA that receives federal research grants.

Hickey
Birthdate: 2/22/1973
Occupation: President / Orland Fire Protection District
Marital status: Married (12 Years)
Spouse: Kristin

Education:

As a child, my grandmother would get books from the salvation army and teach me math starting at the age of 3. By the time I was in kindergarten at St. Adrian School, South-Side of Chicago, I was doing multiplication, division, fractions, etc at a 7th grade level. I went to St. Laurence High School in Burbank, IL and was involved in sports and computers. I went directly into the workforce, starting at entry level stock broker position and working my way to management. I have been self-taught, I love listening to audio books and reading biographies. In 2007, as the economy began to slide, my wife & I went back to school, and attended DePaul University. I graduated with honors with a 3.98 GPA. In 2010, I began working towards my MBA at Keller Graduate School and currently have a 3.8 GPA with 8 classes left to obtain my MBA. I have taken a couple quarters off due to the campaign. I plan to continue towards my PhD.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

I am a member of the Realtors Association, Mortgage Brokers Association, and the NRA.
I am a past member of Toastmasters International. I have been a coach for the past 10 years for the Orland Youth Association, I coach Baseball and Basketball. I was also a coach for 5 years with the Pioneer Football Organization. I am a member of Our Lady of the Woods Parish.

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

I was elected trustee of the Orland Fire Protection District in 2009. There were 5 candidates and I won with an overwhelming 60% of the vote. In April 2011, I was voted President of the Board of the Orland Fire Protection District.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

None.

Thomas
Birthdate: 10/21/1970
Occupation: Lawyer/Self
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Angie Clay Thomas

Education:

Graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Received law degree and Masters in Educational Policy Studies degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. An ordained minister, currently completing a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Leadership Greater Chicago (2002 Fellow); Board of Visitors for the University of Illinois College of Education; National Bar Association, Secretary and Executive Committee; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., NAACP (DuPage County branch & Joliet branch)

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

YES. West Aurora School Board (District 129) Member, elected in 2005 & 2009; Aurora Township Clerk, elected in 2005 & 2009; Labor Counsel for Illinois Secretary of State

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

N/A

Campaign information
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    Foster
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    Hickey
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    Thomas
Foster

Campaign headquarters: 25 S Washington, Suite 208
Website: www.billfoster.com
Campaign manager: Patrick Brown
Campaign budget: We are building a grassroots campaign to reflect the hardworking values of the folks in Illinois's new 11th district, and I am confident that we will have the resources we need to succeed and win.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
All of my campaign contributions above $200 are listed on the FEC web site.

Hickey

Campaign headquarters: 11620 Kaup Lane, Orland Park IL 60467
Website: www.JimHickeyForAmerica.com
Campaign manager: Jim Hickey
Campaign budget: I am hoping to raise $150k. My wife & I have personally walked over 155 miles door to door, personally meeting voters, and vow to continue until election day. Meet ME, the candidate not an overpaid staff member from my opponent's camp.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Unlike my opponents, I have not received any Special Interest Money (PAC MONEY). I have not had an significant donations, and have been running my campaign on small personal loans from myself. Most of my donations are in the $25 or $50 range.

I want to show voters that a normal working class person that works full-time and can campaign on the week-ends and win!

Thomas

Campaign headquarters: 41 W. New York Street, Aurora, IL 60506
Website: www.juanthomas.com
Campaign manager: Doug Price
Campaign budget: Campaign reports available at http://fec.gov/
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Campaign reports available at http://fec.gov/

What are your top priorities for the nation?
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    Thomas
Foster

My top priority for the nation is creating jobs and building a solid economic future for Illinois that families here can be confident about. As someone who started a small business from scratch, I know how important it is for families to believe in the sound economic footing of their own community.

One of the lessons of the last 10 years is that achieving a high rate of economic growth requires a healthy middle class. Middle income families are not yet feeling the same relief as Wall Street or Washington. Families I talk to are worried about their job and their future. But instead of thoughtful policies to encourage job creation, Congress has been frustratingly out of touch – bickering and refusing to compromise instead of working on policies that can help get our economy back on track.

We need to make American manufacturing a priority. For more than a decade, we've seen the decimation of American manufacturing due to many factors, including bad trade deals and policies that actually rewarded companies for shipping jobs overseas. I know manufacturing can work in America, because the company I started still manufactures lighting equipment right here in the Midwest, and provides hundreds of good jobs. America cannot become just a service economy – we are at our best when we build things and we have to get back to that.

Hickey

We need someone from the common working class to represent us in Congress. Someone that understands the hardships that American families face.
1) JOBS: I believe we need to bring jobs back to America. We need incentives for corporations to bring back jobs that have out-sourced.
2) Education: Student Loan reform, under my proposal, loan payments would drop by 80%. We would link the interest rate to the US Treasury and Amortize over 50 years.
We need to be able to compete in a global world.
3) Fix Housing Market: Millions have lost their homes, or are underwater with their current loan. We need to reform the FHA guidelines, and let people that qualify for a loan, be able to buy a home. Also we need to let those underwater be able to refinance to lower their monthly payment.
4) Rid America from Foreign Energy.
5) Transparency: Many of the citizens of America have stopped voting because they lost trust in our politicians and government. I want everyone to know where their tax dollars are being spent, I want to regain their trust and to make America great for everyone, not just the rich.
6) Educational Improvements, I want our children to be able to compete in a Global Economy and it starts with Education. I propose a National Lottery that will create $12B for States Education, and another $12B for Federal Education. Illinois would receive a total of $940,000,000 towards education each year.
7) Remove the loopholes that threaten the existence of Social Security/Medicare. We need to keep Social Security around forever! Can you imagine what would have happened if it was privatized, our seniors who worked their whole life to better their families and give back to their country would be on the streets or having to burden their children. My grandparents lived off social security and my mom turns 60 this year. I promise to make sure Social Security is around in the next century.

The bottom line is Americans are broke! Without extra money, small businesses cannot open, they cannot hire people, and the strip malls are filled with vacant openings. I have a detailed list of my ideas and solutions on my website, www.JimHickeyForAmerica.com

Thomas

Investments in the long-term growth and prosperity of the country: proving a quality education for all children, affordable, accessible healthcare for all families, renewable energy options; job growth and a stable economy

What are your top priorities for your congressional district?
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Foster

As I have been talking with families across this new district, I hear the same concern: we need jobs, but Congress is a mess and doing nothing to invest in regular people, small businesses, and innovation. I'm running because the chaos and dysfunction coming out of Washington can't go on. The agenda coming from Congressional Republicans that ends Medicare, cuts progress and jeopardizes the American dream can't continue. Our seniors need to know that Medicare and Social Security will be there for them and that their retirement is secure. Illinois families need to have the confidence that their children will enjoy the same success and competitive edge that they did and that our communities will be strong enough to support generations to come. Everyone knows we need to cut down on spending, but we can't do it at the expense of Illinois' long term economic growth. We need to invest in cutting edge research and emerging industries—whether that's technology or national laboratories—and we need to find smart solutions to boost our manufacturing and create good jobs.

Hickey

1) JOBS; Bring manufacturing back to the 11th District. Lower Corporate Tax Rate to 20%, and remove all taxes on foreign profits. Currently corporations are keeping profits off-shore to avoid being taxed 35%. Common sense states to remove what doesn't work.

2) Fix Housing Market: We need to get families back into all of the abandoned foreclosures and turn them into neighborhoods again.

3) We need to Invest in Rebuilding our Infrastructure, Schools, and Bio-Fuels.

We need to bring the American Dream back to the district, so everyone knows that America is a place where as long as you are willing to work hard, you and your family can achieve the American Dream. I plan to be a congressman that walks proud with the voters in the district. I will continue to walk the district, ask families, seniors, business owners for ideas to make our District & the Nation great again.

Thomas

Job growth, economic development, improved quality of life in every community

The nation's economy has yet to recover. What are the causes of the weak economy, and what should be done to speed its recovery?
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Foster

The biggest problem with our economy is that recovery has reached Wall Street Banks, but it hasn't reached regular communities in Illinois and across the country. Middle income families, taxpayers, workers have had to bear the worst of this economic crisis and there hasn't been the relief they need.

We've lost faith in the institutions that were responsible for the recession—Washington and Wall Street. And for good reason. Despite everything Illinois families have been through, it still feels like nothing has changed-special interests own Congress and headway that's been made to protect consumers is now at risk thanks to Congressional Republicans.

I believe we need to focus on creating good jobs. It has to be our top priority. We can do even more to help lower taxes for small businesses and middle class families. And I think we need to stabilize our national debt situation and put us on a path to long-term financial health.

Hickey

1) The housing market is a crucial, we need to fix the housing market. Once this is fixed, confidence will rebound and Americans will start to feel good again. There are many trades involved in building new homes and the upkeep.
2) Increase Cash Flow to Citizens: Student Loan Payments and High Gas Prices are hardships on the American wallet. The average student loan payment is $500 a month, under my proposal that would drop to $100 a month, that is $400/month that could be spent in the local economy. Gas prices are high, today it costs nearly $80 to fill a tank a gas per week. 10 years ago the cost was only $20 a week. That is $240 a month that could be spent in the local economy.
If citizens have money to spend in their local economy, that causes small businesses to open and prosper. Then the small business owner is busy and needs to hire another worker, which gives them money to spend in the local economy. If the small business owner is busy, then the warehouse is busy and needs to hire, if the warehouse is busy, then manufacturer is busy (I want to bring manufacturing back to America). I call this the GROUND UP THEORY. My opponent believes in the Trickle Down, which does not work! Giving millionaires tax breaks in hopes of them creating jobs does not work, these businessman are more interested in creating profits not jobs! I believe in the GROUND UP THEORY!

Thomas

With so many people unemployed and underemployed spending is down and the demand for goods and services is down. With fewer customers businesses need fewer workers, which perpetuates the week economy.
I support passage of the American Jobs Act that President Obama introduced last September. The Jobs Act proposes cutting the payroll tax in half to help small businesses hire more people and expand operations. It proposes putting construction workers and contractors back to work on shovel-ready projects to modernize roads and bridges and other infrastructure jobs. There’s also a tax credit for veterans ranging from$5,600 to $9,600 to encourage the hiring of unemployed veterans. These and many other measures in the Jobs Act offer a solution to the jobs crisis, now, while also laying out a plan for sustained economic recovery.

Should revenue increases, in the form of new taxes, higher taxes or more broadly imposed taxes, be part of the solution to crafting a more balanced federal budget and reducing the national debt?
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Foster

Our nation's growing national debt is a threat to our economic prosperity, long-term. And any reasonable person will tell you that to deal with it, we need to deal with both the spending and the revenue side of the problem. To that end, I would support rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% and returning them to Clinton-era levels where the economy – and wealthy people – were doing just fine. I think it's irresponsible to ask middle class taxpayers to deal with the brunt of balancing the budget – both in taxes and in cuts to services – without asking the wealthiest among us to do their fair share.

Hickey

The American working class is already being taxed to death. The answer to reducing the national debt is not by raising taxes, but instead by bringing back jobs that were outsourced, putting Americans back to work, and rebuilding our infrastructure and our schools.The more people that are working, the more taxes that the government receives in the form of federal wage taxes. Also the more money Americans spend, the government receives more sales tax revenues.
We also need to stop wasteful spending. At the Fire District, we went through the budget and eliminated over $2M in wasteful and redundant spending without having to layoff anyone or cut services.

Thomas

The United States should not balance the budgets on the backs of the working class and our senior citizens. Everyone must pay their fair share and I strongly support letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire. According to the National Priorities Project, the Bush Tax Cuts that were extended by President Obama have led to the United States Treasury loosing 1 trillion dollars. Now letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire will not solve the deficit problem but it would be a start. I believe that as a country we should have zero-based budgeting. In Congress if a program is not working or it is no longer needed, the funding should be reduced or eliminated.

Many Republican members of Congress have signed the Grover Norquist pledge not to support a tax increase of any kind at any time. Have you, or would you, sign this pledge? Why or why not?
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    Thomas
Foster

I do not sign pledges. Members of Congress who do sign pledges are abdicating their responsibility to govern in a rational and bipartisan manner. I was very disappointed in recent years to see the Grover Norquist pledge signed by all Republican members of the Illinois delegation – including members like Judy Biggert and Mark Kirk who have claimed in the past to support bipartisan compromise.

I believe that pledges such as these are a large contributor the dysfunction and gridlock in the current Congress. Over the past year, we've seen Congressional Republicans vote to end Medicare as we know it just to protect tax breaks for billionaires – just to keep their pledges to Norquist and other right-wing interest groups. Outside special interests have drowned out the voices of regular people, and I am running to represent hard working middle income families here in Illinois. My commitments are to them not to Grover Norquist. As a scientist for 30 years at Fermi Lab in Batavia, I learned to look at the facts and let those facts dictate the best course of action – a posture that frequently gets me in hot water with the leadership of my own party. I believe Washington would be well served to follow this example, and not blindly pledge to follow the lead of special interest groups.

Hickey

I would not sign this. I DO support tax increases for the rich and wealthy, not on their gross or corporate revenues but on their personal income and personal spending, for those earning more then $500,000 a year in net income. The poor and working class are already paying more then their share. This is one of the reasons that Congress has been unable to find a middle ground, and continue to bicker over small issues while the America citizens are struggling to find a job, keep a roof over their head and put food on the table. I believe Americans are not opposed to paying taxes, but they do not want their money wasted! We need to rebuild confidence in our American Government, and we need to focus on JOBS, HOUSING, & Creating Cash-Flow for All Americans, and the Economy will recover. My proposals help all Americans regardless if they are Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Green Party, Independent or just disgusted and refrain from voting.

Thomas

No, I would not sign the Grover Norquist pledge. I believe that tax increases, especially for the middle class, should be one of the last options for increasing revenue or closing the budget gap, but I don’t think it’s in good practice to take options off the table without first weighing all the pros and cons. Doing what’s best to ensure the long-term health and growth of the country often requires doing what’s right, not what’s popular.

What is the role of compromise in ending the political deadlock on fundamental goals such as entitlement reform and deficit reduction? When and how would you compromise?
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Foster

I don't think we've ever seen Congress as frustrating and dysfunctional as it was this past year, and it is because the agenda coming from Washington has been unyielding, out of touch, and extreme. It's clear that Congress would rather ground all progress to a halt rather than stand up to Party leadership or special interests. Compromise was sorely, and sadly missing, and has been for some time.

I publicly supported the approach taken by the Simpson-Bowles committee: to start by negotiating a high-level agreement that the deficit problem will be solved by X% spending cuts and Y% revenue enhancements, and then to dig down into the details of the budget and tax code to share the pain equally and make the numbers work.

I was inspired in starting my own small business and in my career in science by a belief in the power of creative problem-solving and common sense. I have built my work experience in every job I've had, including serving in the House, on prioritizing reasonable solutions and cooperation. I believe that Congress needs to come to the table and do the work that regular Illinois families are asking them to do—create jobs, reduce the deficit, and invest in our middle class—not succumb to politics as usual where only special interests and Washington insiders win.

Hickey

Compromise is how our American Government was originally formed, and compromise needs to continue to part of all negotiations. I believe I can be a bridge that can get things accomplished in DC.

We need to make sure that our seniors are protected. They have worked their entire lives to help their family and their country. Now that they are unable to work, Social Security needs to be there for them. I think 70 years old is too old to start to collect benefits and under my proposal, we can continue giving benefits at our current age requirements.

We need to reduce our deficit, and not burden future generations. This is done by putting the policies in place to rebuild the economy from THE GROUND UP, not by raising taxes. We also need to stop wasteful spending.

Thomas

Compromise is the only way Congress will effectively serve and positively impact those who elected them. The more Republicans say “no” and refuse to work with the President the more their constituents are harmed. At the end of the day people are people, no matter the social-economic position, race or ethnicity, region of the country – people want a good education for their kids, a safe neighborhood to live in and an opportunity to work and advance. I pledge to work cooperatively with “reasonable Republicans” in order to bring about common sense solutions, but I will stand firm on those values that matter most to the working class families in the 11th CD.

Does the Social Security program need reform? What exactly should be done?
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Foster

Seniors' retirement must be upheld. This is a program that they have paid into and that promise must be protected. Social Security is actually not one of the bigger drivers of our long term debt – unlike health care cost and interest on our debt. I do not support the proposals backed by President Bush and Rep. Biggert to partially privatize social security – just imagine what the economic crash would have meant to millions of retirees had that been enacted. I believe that social security should be made solvent primarily by small tweaks on the revenue side – such as President Obama's proposal to include payroll taxes on incomes above $250k/year. I also believe that some adjustments could be made on the benefits side.

Hickey

Under my proposal, Social Security/Medicare entitlements can be funded forever, there are 2 loopholes that need to be fixed.
1) Remove the maximum income limit. Currently any income over $106,000 there are no social security taxes paid. A maximum of $6,400 is paid into social security regardless if the person makes $500,000; $1M or $10M a year.
Everyone should pay the same percentage.

2) Receiving benefits, we need to have a maximum income limit including income & capital gains. This is where compromise comes into play. Should this be $250,000 or more? Currently everyone receives social security, even Warren Buffet said this is unfair, and he should not receive Social Security. But since his income comes from capital gains he is able to collect. This needs to be fixed!

Benjamin Franklin, my favorite founding father, stated it best, "We are growing old fast ourselves, and shall expect the same kind of indulgences. If we give them, we shall have a right to receive them in our turn."

Thomas

We need to ensure that those paying into Social Security will receive their benefits 20 or 30 years from now at retirement. With fewer workers paying into the system and people living decades past the original life expectancy for Social Security, adjustments must be made. Raising the age for maximum benefit cannot be the only solution.

How would you reform Medicare? Be as specific as possible.
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Foster

Unlike Social Security, Medicare and health care costs in general are the biggest drivers of our long-term national debt. What we must do, is bend the cost curve or we will be drowned in an avalanche of health care related spending. Many provisions in the health care reform bill – such as electronic medical records – are already starting to bend the cost curve in ways that will benefit both the Medicare program and health care cost for younger Americans, and must be allowed to continue.

I recognize that additional improvements are necessary but we can't end the program as we know it. This past year the drumbeat coming from Congressional Republicans is to dismantle Medicare that seniors both currently like and rely upon. That's just plain wrong. Drug costs for Medicare should be negotiated just the way that Veterans Administration does, instead of simply accepting whatever price the drug companies demand. I support transparency initiatives for price and quality of medical care providers that will empower consumers and greatly enhance competition between insurance companies

Hickey

My ideas concerning Health Care/Medicare reform:
First of all I would keep the existing system in place, many Americans currently have health insurance and they like the current system. Even though my family & I have not had health insurance since 2007, when the costs continued to rise, and our income dropped.

I believe that we could create another system, that would hire doctors, nurses, etc much like we currently pay our Policemen, Fireman, Teachers, and City Workers which is through local real estate taxes. I am not talking about a county hospital that is over crowded, more like an immediate care center. There is much upfront costs associated with this plan, but after the building and equipment have been purchased, salaries, upkeep and automatic replacement system needs to be in place.
Here is an example:
25,000 households pay $250/year= $6.2M;
Average Household size according to US Census 2.6 (25,000 x 2.6=65,000 residents)
20% are currently uninsured, or 13,000 (16.9% According to CNN Money)
If we base our doctor size on United Kingdom, they currently have 2.5doctors per 1000 citizens. If we based our proposal not on covering 16.9% or 20%, but on covering 50% of the citizens that is 32,500 need care. We need to hire 81 physicians. Create a step up pay system, starting at $50,000/yr, and maxing out at $130,000/yr, just like our Policemen, Firemen, Teachers etc.
I know that my plan needs much research and details, but this is a starting point.

Thomas

The Administration’s health care reform bills includes a provision that requires insurance companies to pay billions of dollars annually in new fees beginning in 2012, and to provide a 50 percent discount on prescriptions filled through the Medicare Part D coverage gap. This compromise certainly benefits consumers, but the fact that the pharmaceutical manufactures did not go further and agree to the negotiation of drug prices suggests there are more savings to be achieved. We should continue to push for Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.

Is there a problem of a growing income and wealth gap in the United States? Is there a problem of unequal opportunity? What, if anything, should government do about this?
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Foster

Our middle class is in trouble. It's been squeezed and there's not much more regular families can take. The growing disparity in this country risks the values that share: that hard work and good ideas are rewarded and that anyone can have a chance to succeed. I started my first business when I was 19 years old with my brother in our parents' basement. I am running because I worry that this opportunity might not be true now and in the future. And what we see coming out of Washington is frustratingly out of touch. Congress in the last year voted to protect tax breaks for billionaires and ends Medicare as we know it. Washington is squandering the opportunity to rebuild our country to last and for the better.
Federal policies must understand the linkages between economic growth, social mobility, and a strong middle class. Countries with very unequal distributions of income suffer from low rates of growth, due to the low return-on-investment for investments made by the wealthy compared to investments by the middle class. An aggravating problem for the United States is that wealthy people tend to make an increasing fraction of their investments offshore – so that the net effect of the Bush tax cuts with benefits skewed towards the wealthy was to simply speed up the flight of investment capital and the deindustrialization of the United States.
Finally, we need to focus on creating jobs and rewarding what this country is best at: innovation. Washington needs to make sure that promote small businesses and local enterprise. We can rebuild but it's going to take our policy making a hard turn by making the middle class a priority.

Hickey

Yes, the middle class is being removed from America, and being created elsewhere around the world. The rich are getting richer, and the poor and middle class are barely making ends meet. My opponent is worth $50,000,000; and if invested conservatively at 5% interest, that would pay him $48,000 a week in interest, never touching principal. But he says he understands the hardships that the American family faces today!

Government needs to create policies to keep jobs here in America. Americans do not want handouts, just the opportunity to work hard, earn a good living, have a roof over their head, food on their table, and the opportunity to give their children a better life then they have. This next generation is the first one that might not have a better life then their parents. That is bad! America is the land of innovation, creativity. America created the computer, yet they are built in China. America created the internet, yet we rank 19th in usage among our citizens.

As Congressman, I vow not to punish the rich, nor divide up the assets like socialist, but to create policies that create new industries in America, bring back jobs, invest in Bio-Technology, and rid America from Foreign Energy, once again creating jobs! Everything revolves around creating jobs, and helping those that want to work hard, that want the American Dream.

Thomas

YES there is a growing wealth gap and decline in available opportunities for all. Government must be a partner to address these issues in three ways: continue to invest in education and programs that help create jobs, concentrate resources on neglected communities, and implement policies and regulations that require individuals to be more accountable and make better choices.

Who is to blame for the home mortgages collapse?
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Foster

The mortgage collapse was the inevitable result of the real estate bubble that was inflated in 2002-2006. The bubble was driven by excessively loose monetary policy, and the ideologically driven failure to regulate both the primary and secondary mortgage markets. It is important to note that other advanced economies – like Canada and Australia – maintained effective oversight and regulation over their banking and mortgage systems and did not suffer through a housing bubble and collapse.

Approximately 85% of the “toxic assets” (bad securitized mortgages) came through the unregulated pipeline of storefront mortgage originators feeding the securitization pipeline of unregulated investment banks in the shadow banking system. The remaining 15% came through Fannie and Freddie backed mortgages in the years 2005-2006 – driven by President Bush's encouragement of their participation “Ownership Society” programs that were enthusiastically endorsed by Republicans. In both cases, these were questioned at the time but allowed to proceed due to an ideologically driven lack of congressional oversight.

The complete lack of effective congressional oversight in these years was directly responsible for the economic misery that we are going through today. I expect that Chairman Biggert‘s involvement and support of the badly mistaken policies that led to this crisis will be a major subject of discussion in the coming election.

Hickey

Greed. Wall Street created the mess and passed along their idea to the banks and mortgage bankers. What we need is solutions! We need to revamp the FHA guidelines, currently if a homeowner had a Bankruptcy or Foreclosure, they need to wait 4 years until they can qualify for a loan. Even if the family is back on their feet, can show tax returns, pay-stubs, and have saved the down-payment. This is wrong. We need to lift these requirements, and go back to the old days, pre-internet mortgage loans where FHA was not driven by a credit score, but rather by the ability to re-pay the loan. This alone will create a surge of buying homes again, and will take all of the foreclosures off the market. Once all foreclosures are gone, the market can stabilize and begin to rebound.

Thomas

The banks who rushed to make so many bad loans, to those who could not show proof of income or employment for example are in large part responsible for the mortgage market collapse. There were, however, some homeowners who knowingly bought more house than they can afford. Ultimately, its federal regulators who failed to do their job and ensure the financial safety and soundness of the mortgage market.

What, if anything, should be done to assist Americans whose homes are financially "under water" and face foreclosure?
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    Thomas
Foster

Home ownership has long been a cornerstone of the American dream, but Wall Street and Washington's failure have changed that for generations to come. Families still wrestling to recover from this economic crisis need to have a light at the end of the tunnel. Our institutions that got us into this mess must be tasked with finding a way out of it. We need targeted, common sense policy that can create jobs and kick-start local economies—that's what will help the average family most.

I also believe that monetary policies that risk further deflation pose significant risk to the housing recovery. It has been frequently observed that if we had undergone gentle 5-6% inflation for the last three years, then a large fraction of currently-underwater mortgage holders would be back out from “under water”. If deflation sets in, the reverse is true.

Hickey

This is crucial, I have seen this hardship first hand. I have faced foreclosure and had to short sale my home. The banks made you believe they would "help" modify your loan, but month after month, they would keep requesting more and more documents, and nothing ever happened on a permanent basis.

We need to bring confidence back to the American Family mindset. If a family owes $300,000 on a home that is currently appraised at $200,000, we should allow the bank to lower the loan amount to appraised value, and place a lien of the difference on the home. This lien will be repaid upon sale of the home. But this allows the homeowner to refinance the loan to a lower interest rate, and dramatically lower their payment.
An example ( not counting taxes & insurance):
$300,000 Loan @ 6% Interest -30 year Fixed = $1800/month
$200,000 Loan @ 4% Interest - 30 year Fixed = $ 955/month
This gives the family an extra $845 a month to spend in the local economy!!!
Plus the bank will have greater confidence the loan will be repaid on-time, and will still have a lien of $100,000 to be repaid in the future.

Thomas

I support the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable program that offers struggling homeowners interest rate reductions, refinancing, deferred payment and options to transition out of their homes.

Is global warming real? Is it man-made? What, if anything, should be done about it?
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    ALL
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    Foster
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    Hickey
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    Thomas
Foster

I worked as a scientist for over 30 years and learned to look at facts. The facts tell us that global warming is real, and that man contributes to it. We need to focus how global warming affects our families and our future security and economy and what we need to do about it. I don't think Congress has put forth a comprehensive proposal that can reasonably handle the pressures of our energy needs and our environmental and industrial concerns. I broke with my own party and voted against Cap-And-Trade legislation because it would not have reduced carbon emissions in a cost-effective manner and would have put a huge new burden on the cost of energy for families. We need to invest in new technologies and new innovation to create jobs, expand industry, and promote energy independence that protects our nation's long-term environmental assets. We also need competent advocates for existing technologies – like efficiency improvements, safe and proliferation-resistant nuclear energy, and the temporary replacement of coal-fired industrial processes with natural-gas-fired processes.

Hickey

I believe global warming is real. We need to invest in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, bio-fuels that will help restore balance in nature. We need to replant forests, and have tree lined streets. I am not a climate scientist, but common sense has shown that the ice caps are melting causing a rise in the height and temperature of the oceans. We have only one planet, and need to take steps to make sure that we all have a place to live for centuries to come.

Thomas

Yes, global warming is a legitimate concern that we, as a society, are contributing to if not completely responsible for. Where we can take steps to slow global warming, e.g. through reducing pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions we certainly should. I think research on the long-term effects and “fixes” is necessary.

What is the role of the federal government in promoting "green" alternatives to fossil fuels? What are those alternatives?
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    ALL
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    Foster
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    Hickey
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    Thomas
Foster

The primary federal roles are: 1) long-term technology development, 2) pre-commercial incentives for technologies transitioning across the “valley of death” between research and development, and commercial deployment, and 3) acting as a neutral data-collector on the real-world costs of energy systems being deployed today, and 4) acting in conjunction with the rest of the world to apply appropriate disincentives to technologies that produce carbon pollution.
Biomass derived liquid transportation fuels have the potential to replace the majority of oil imports, particularly when combined with efficiency improvements (better mileage) in transportation vehicles. While many biofuels technologies have been over-hyped in the past, several biomass-to-fuels technologies are now approaching commercial feasibility. I am specifically enthusiastic about the Kior process for direct biomass-to-crude-oil process using fluidized bed catalytic conversion, and methods which use supercritical steam to depolymerize cellulosic materials into sugars without the production of a waste acid stream.
I am less optimistic about all-electric automobiles, largely because of the slow rate of progress in battery technology development and the need to consider the carbon footprint of the entire system. I am also skeptical of many of the so-called “smart grid” initiatives due to concerns about security and privacy.

Finally, I am more optimistic about the medium-term future of corn-based ethanol than many of my colleagues. The carbon footprint of corn-based ethanol has improved massively in the last decade due to process improvements in modern refineries, and when one includes the projected doubling of corn yields per acre over the next 20 years due to continued genetic improvements in the corn plant, I expect corn-based ethanol will remain in the picture even as government incentives fade away.

Hickey

Burning fossil fuel (coal, gas, and oil) is becoming far too expensive, and the problem is that there's only a limited supply. We need to think out-side the box like Brazil, and become self-sufficient with our energy.

Solar, Wind,Nuclear, and Biomass. I really like the studies that I have seen on Bio-Algae. This type of biomass uses land that is NOT suitable for agriculture, also does not affect the food supply. At the Orland Fire District, we have begun to implement Bio-Diesels which cost less and last longer.

Americans are creativity and I believe if we have a mission of being energy self sufficient, we can make this happen this decade.

Thomas

The federal government should be a leader in promoting alternatives to fossil fuels and green energy. We have to reduce our nation’s dependency on foreign oil. We must explore alternatives such as solar and wind power. I would have supported The Obama Administration’s Clean Energy Act in 2010.

Is waterboarding a form of torture? On what basis do you make this assertion? Should the United States engage in waterboarding under any circumstances?
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    ALL
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    Foster
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    Hickey
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    Thomas
Foster

Waterboarding is torture based on military and international codes of ethics. The United States should not torture under any circumstances.

Hickey

While I support the defense of this country and giving our soldiers the ability to fight in legitimate wars, I believe that we should abide by internationally accepted rules of engagement and conduct. The abuse of prisoners under our control could reflect on how our soldiers would be treated if captured by the enemy. For this reason, I oppose waterboarding and I oppose torture and “torture like” techniques defined by the Bush Administration.
“Torture” is a criminally prosectable offense in our American laws and we need to set the standard for what is right through leadership, not through exceptions or excuses. I do not want the techniques used against our soldiers if they are taken prisoner in any future conflict.

Thomas

YES, waterboarding a form of torture, based on what it’s used for and the physical and psychological harm that results from it. I need more information As a signatory of the United Nations Convention Against Torture the U.S. should not engage in waterboarding.

Do you support the legalization or de-criminalization of marijuana, either on a state or national level? Have you ever personally smoked marijuana?
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    ALL
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    Foster
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    Hickey
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    Thomas
Foster

I do not support the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.

Hickey

I have never personally smoked marijuana, but growing up on the south-side of Chicago, I have seen drugs ruin many people's lives. This is an issue that I was strongly against, stating the marijuana was and should be against the law.

But after talking to numerous citizens in my district, friends that are in law enforcement, and reading numerous studies on the issue, I feel that the nation should look towards 14 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon) that have already decriminalized marijuana and have no jail times but a fine.

I feel that we should decriminalize marijuana on a national level.
Then the question comes up, if marijuana use is only a fine, should America make it legal and collect taxes from it much like America does with:
Alcohol (2009 Federal Government $9.1Billion, and States $5.9Billion) &
Tobacco (2009 Federal Government $13.3Billion, and States $15.8Billion,
data from Congressional Budget Office).
This is an item that the American Government could lift the prohibition and raise approx $5-$10Billion in revenues.

I believe that any issue that has much controversy as in this case, that we should open the polls and place it on the ballot for everyone to vote on. This government was established for the people and by the people, and all of our citizens need to and should vote.
On another issue, I also feel that we need to make it easier for our citizens to be registered to vote. I believe that each drivers license or state Identification should be an automatic registered voter, and on the back of the license/I.D card should state the location of the poll for that citizen. We are a nation that was built on the theory that regular men can govern themselves, and in the 21st century, we need to make voting a way of life for all citizens. I believe that I am the candidate that can make people feel good about voting again, I have many other common sense ideas to make America great again!

Thomas

NO, I do not support the legalization or de-criminalization of marijuana, either on a state or national level. NO, I have never smoked marijuana.

Iran, according to a new United Nations report, is covertly at work building a nuclear bomb. Should Iran be stopped, and how? Please explain the merits of international sanctions versus military action.
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    ALL
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    Foster
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    Hickey
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    Thomas
Foster

Military action should always be a last resort, but we need to take every step necessary to prevent a nuclear Iran. Currently, I believe international sanctions are beginning to have an effect, and we should continue to use those to put as much pressure as possible on Iran and stand with Israel. I believe that President Obama's multilateral engagement to get other countries in Europe and elsewhere to participate in sanctions with teeth has been more effective that President Bush's “go-it-alone” philosophy.

Hickey

Yes, an nuclear Iran is not good for the middle east, nor the world. America must continue to have international sanctions and we must have our nuclear inspectors in Iran to continue investigating. If Iran gets close to creating a nuclear bomb, we must take military action.

Middle East: Israel-Palestine Peace
I support the two-state solution which has been embraced by both Israeli and Palestinian government officials. And while the peace process has stalled, I believe returning to the peace table by both sides is in the best interests of securing Israel's right to exist and security, and also the rights of Palestinians as well as helping to reduce the conflict level in the Middle East where so many American soldiers have sacrificed their lives and where so much American taxpayer dollars have been invested over the years.

As for the details of a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, I believe that should be left up to Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

I also believe that as an American elected official, my responsibility is first and foremost to the security and safety of Americans, and secondly but also importantly, to help bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict. We should be smart not to incite more violence and at the same time what we say should make a positive contribution towards these goals.

Thomas

There are conflicting reports regarding this issue. If Iran is building a nuclear bomb, they must be stopped through international intervention including military action if necessary. If international sanctions are not successful, military action should be the last option.

How would you define "success" for the United States in the war in Afghanistan? Do you support the President's plan and timetable for withdrawing American troops?
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    ALL
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    Foster
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    Hickey
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    Thomas
Foster

As hard as it is to define success in this region, we must continue to work to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for terrorists to use to launch attacks against the United States and our allies. Our nation-building ambitions should be very limited in this area.

Hickey

Success in Afghanistan is that there have not been anymore terrorist attacks on American soil. We are keeping the conflicts overseas. I am in agreement on the withdrawal of some troops, but I want to make sure that the conflict is over before all the troops come home. The withdrawal of ALL American troops worries me if the conflict is not completely over. This means the terrorist will once again begin to draw up plans of future attacks.
We need to finish the War in Afghanistan.

Thomas

I would define success in Afghanistan by the Afghan leadership taking swift and sever action to eliminate Al Queda, terrorists and Taliban extremists.
A key component of President Obama’s plan for Afghanistan is an increase of 30,000 U.S. troops. While I do not want to see even one more soldier deployed to battle, the Administration’s strategy is reasonable. More troops on the ground will mean less time needed to build Afghan capacity and transition the country to local control. Pushing U.S. allies to play a larger role in the Afghan conflict is also critical. Afghanistan is a war that cannot be won. We need to stick to a timeline for withdrawal – the 18 months proposed by the Administration, again, seems reasonable to ensure a stable transition. Until the last troop comes home, we ensure that our troops have the training, equipment and support needed in combat.

The No Child Left Behind Act is overdue for reauthorization. Do you support the Administration's blueprint for reauthorization, the bill that recently passed the Senate Education Committee, or some other alternative?
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    ALL
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    Foster
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    Hickey
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    Thomas
Foster

Investments in public education yield the highest returns for our society. As a scientist and businessman whose own children attended area public schools, I know the importance of investing in public education and strengthening our public school system. For many years, I served on the board of the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence, an organization dedicated to supporting the local public school district.
During my time in office, I consistently voted to protect and strengthen our children's education. I voted for legislation to help avoid teacher lay-off and keep our educators in the classroom during an economic storm. Avoiding drastic cuts to education is only the beginning of strengthening the education profession.
We need to invest in the success of our students in the classroom. This means recruiting, training and retaining the most talented teachers. This means investing in teacher pay as well as programs to encourage young men and women to consider education as their profession. There is simply no substitute for high-quality educators.
Our country has a long history of creativity, ingenuity and innovation that have long led to technological advances and world-changing inventions. We must promote programs that foster this creative approach. One program I am especially proud of is the Fab Lab – an MIT inspired computer-automated factory, which I brought to the campus of Waubonsee Community College in downtown Aurora in 2010. The Fab Lab allows students and parents to design parts on a computer and “print” their designs as actual finished parts. We need to continue investing in innovative solutions to encourage creativity in our students.

Hickey

Let me start out by stating that my wife has been an aiding in the teaching of kids with Autism for a couple of years now, and I have many close family members that are school teachers. I believe education is needed to compete in a global economy, and I have many common sense ideas to bring education to all Americas and ways to pay for it!

First of all the No Child Left Behind Act is good in theory, and sounds good on paper, but if you ask a majority of teachers, it fails in being realistic. There is no way that every child learns in the same manner, and that every child will be able to hit each milestone that the No Child Left Behind Act is looking to accomplish. We need to Repeal the No Child Left Behind Act.

I have common sense ideas that will help students learn better, and be able to achieve their goals. We need to get teachers involved in the decision making process, and have them help us create the perfect education system. We need to bring the internet to ALL Americans, we need to eliminate the technology cultural divide.

When I was in grade school, and the Commodore 64 came out, I used my paper route money to buy one. I had a vision that my kids would be taught in a new way and that computers would really help people learn new things. My vision has a teacher in Aurora, who loves teaching addition facts, and has great concepts in which to get her students to learn better, creates a video of the lesson. Then a student in Joliet, Bolingbrook or anywhere in the world can watch this video and learn. Now imagine that being done for all subjects. I want to be the Education Congressman!

Thomas

As a former school board member for the West Aurora School District, I know that our greatest resource in the United States is our children. Far too often, however, out public policy is in opposition to this sentiment. The future of our country – our social and economic success – in large part depends on the investment we make in our people, especially our children. I support the Obama Administration’s blueprint for reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, which is focused on improving 1) the effectiveness of the teachers teaching and the principles managing; 2) empowering parents to evaluate and improve their children's schools; (3) improving assessments of college- and career-ready standards; (4) improving student learning and achievement in America's lowest-performing schools through new and improved supports and interventions.

The race
The candidates
Bill Foster
Jim Hickey
Juan Thomas
The district
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