The two candidates in the Third Congressional District of Illinois race participated in a virtual forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on Oct. 1, and once again, they detailed their differences as they campaign to win on Election Day, Nov. 3.
Mike Fricilone, of Homer Glen, is the Republican candidate, and Marie Newman, of La Grange, is the Democratic candidate. Newman narrowly defeated longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski in the March primary election.
The candidates differed on health care, women’s reproductive rights and climate change, also saying they have met with many constituents during their campaigns.
Fricilone, who has served on the Will County Board since 2012, said he would emulate Lipinski, a conservative Democrat, in many ways.
“I will push forward legislation that lowers taxes, creates better ways of life for families and seniors, and improves the business climate in our district,” Fricilone said. “I will make sure that American stays energy-independent while developing common-sense solutions to protect our environment, and I will address health care by improving service and lowering costs for Americans.”
Newman, who became politically active after she founded an anti-bullying non-profit organization, said she is focused on getting America out of its public health crisis.
“I’m running for Congress to help all who are struggling to get back on their feet and build an economy that works for everyone,” Newman said. “I’m advocating for practical solutions that will [address] our problems every day, solutions that will actually work and move us forward.”
The Third Congressional District includes parts of Beverly/Morgan Park and Mt. Greenwood, as well as some southwest suburbs.
Lipinski has represented the district since 2005, succeeding his father, Bill Lipinski, who served for over 20 years.
Newman, who is endorsed by the Chicago Sun-Times, narrowly lost to Dan Lipinski in the 2018 primary; this year, she beat him by earning about 47 percent of the vote.
Known as a progressive, Newman has promoted Medicare for All. As the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments about the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, Newman said she wants to “prop up” the ACA during these “hard times” while transitioning to Medicare for All.
She said Medicare is a successful program, and she would roll out Medicare for All over time.
“That is the most responsible, practical path that will allow us to bring costs down—prescription costs down,” Newman said, “make sure everybody has the provider that they want and need and have access to, and make sure that we save money on the way.”
Fricilone, who is endorsed by the Chicago Tribune, disagreed and said Medicare for All “is not the answer.”
He said Obamacare should remain in place; but it should be re-tooled, and drug costs need to be lowered. He also said Medicare for All would put labor unions at risk of losing the ability to choose their health care plans.
Regarding abortion and coverage of contraceptives by insurance companies, Fricilone said he is a practicing Roman Catholic and is pro-life.
“I feel that every woman and man has a choice to make,” he said, “and once they make the choice to create life, I believe that life should have the same chance that we all have.”
He said is “not 100-percent against contraceptives” but is not in favor of insurance companies being required to cover the cost of contraceptives.
Newman re-iterated her pro-choice stance from 2018.
“This is pretty simple,” Newman said. “I trust women, and they should have domain over their own bodies. Clearly, contraception and reproductive care is health care—and health care is reproductive care, so we should cover that with any insurance policy.”
Regarding the federal response to COVID-19, Newman said the government failed, and it’s critical to get testing for all Americans, have a vaccine ready by the end of the first quarter of next year, and make sure everyone wears a mask.
Fricilone praised President Donald Trump for banning travel from China, even though Trump was “called every name in the book.”
Fricilone remains optimistic about the future.
“I think the plan is working,” he said, “and I think we’ll be back to normal next year this time.”
The candidates also differed on how to address climate change, with Fricilone saying “The climate’s always changing” and the Green New Deal “doesn’t make sense.”
Newman supports the Green New Deal.
“I believe in science,” she said, adding “We are in a climate crisis.”
On gun control and banning assault weapons, Fricilone said he is concerned about a “slippery slope” that would lead to more guns being banned, and he would focus on national legislation that penalizes people for possessing illegal guns.
He also said gun-violence criminals need to be kept in prison longer.
Newman said she believes in the Second Amendment but supports a ban on assault weapons. She also called for universal background checks for gun owners.
Regarding protests against police brutality, Newman said she does not believe in abolishing or “getting rid of police in any way,” but she wants to provide more training and invest in mental-health support for officers, who are “asked to wear many hats in one day.”
She said that police reform needs to be addressed, calling for transparency and accountability to “make sure that police brutality stops.”
Fricilone, who is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, also said more mental health care is needed but doesn’t want funding taken away from police departments.
Residents of areas where shootings are prevalent, he said, tell him they want a stronger police presence.
“They don’t want less,” he said. “They want more.”
Concerning racism in American law enforcement, Fricilone said it’s due to the few.
“You’re either a good person or a bad person,” he said, noting “We have some bad people” in police departments but such people “exist in every walk of life.”
He said the amount of black-on-black shootings far outnumbers the amount of police shootings of black people, and he wants to help communities where gun violence is prevalent.
Newman disagreed with Fricilone.
“Racism is a huge problem in our country,” she said. “It’s a part of every minute of every hour of every day, and it needs to be addressed.”
She called for education reform and increased restorative justice programs.
On ending Congressional gridlock, Fricilone said he would join the Problem Solvers Caucus, of which Lipinski is a member, and Newman said she would use an old-fashioned approach from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin—walk down the hall to talk to a member of the opposite party.
Regarding national security, Fricilone said he is not in favor of reducing the military budget, while Newman called for improving alliances with foreign countries.
The two also disagreed on abolishing the Electoral College.
Fricilone said if it were eliminated, just a few highly populated states might determine national elections.
Newman, however, called the Electoral College a “relic” and said it needs to be reviewed. She referenced the Democratic presidential candidate winning the popular vote in recent elections but not winning in the Electoral College.
“It’s clearly not working right now,” Newman said, “based on the past three or four presidential elections.”
Early voting for the general election is underway downtown at the Loop Super Site, 191 N. Clark St.
The local early-voting site is the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., and it will open on Oct. 14.