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home : election 2012 : local   March 26, 2015

11/2/2012 11:15:00 AM
First-term congressman Kinzinger faces fresh challenger Rohl
Kinzinger vs. Rohl: On the issues, in their words

Both candidates were asked to provide a brief statement on how they have voted or will act if elected/re-elected to address the following general issues.
Editor’s note: Some responses have been edited for length.

Reducing unemployment; Economic goals
Adam Kinzinger: In order to turn our
economy around, we need to listen to the job creators, not Washington. Over the last year, I’ve held small business roundtables all throughout my current district to hear their thoughts and concerns about what is
hampering their business. Following these roundtables, I asked small business owners throughout my district what Washington can do to help them create one more job. The majority of these businesses said fewer regulations, lower or simplified taxes, repealing Obama’s health care plan and providing various tax incentives would help their business to grow and thrive.

Wanda Rohl: Congress needs to stop playing politics and get to work. Jobs bills have stalled for far too long and need to be acted upon. We need to repair our infrastructure and doing so will create jobs for thousands of our citizens right here in this district. Five years ago the U.S. was ranked 1st in infrastructure; we are now 15th. Fixing our deteriorating highways and bridges, will make us more globally competitive and strengthen our economy. And small businesses need to be protected from the massive corporations that not only enjoy more buying power, but hold wages down so low that the true job creators — middle and working class Americans who drive demand — can’t afford to patronize their local businesses, forcing far too many doors to close in spite of owners with a fighting spirit and great products and ideas. I will focus on fixing the tax code to eliminate incentives to pay CEOs higher salaries and bonuses and put those incentives where they belong.

Foreign Policy
Rohl: As the wife of a Marine Corps veteran and the mother of an 18-year-old son who is a United States Marine, I have immense respect for and pride in our brave men and women who heed the call of service to our country. I believe wholeheartedly in a strong military and in assuring that our young patriots have the best tools and protection available to do their job. However, as a citizen of a country which has been at war for more than 10 years, I believe we can reduce the casualties of war if we approach conflicts with diplomacy first.  It’s time for America to stop being the world’s police force, withdraw our troops from Afghanistan, and explore diplomatic solutions to diffuse conflicts and resolve
Kinzinger: Afghanistan is one of the vital fronts in the war on terrorism where we face many challenges. Success in Afghanistan is defined when the Afghan government is able to withstand any Taliban resurgence with limited involvement from U.S. military. We cannot allow the country to once again become a training ground for terrorists and see all of our work and sacrifice over the last ten years be for nothing. Providing a timetable for a pullout will only cause the Taliban to wait it out. Decisions should depend on current conditions on the ground and advice from our commanders. American withdrawal and stability of the region need to be done in a manner, which achieves both goals.
I do not support U.S. intervention in Syria however, this is an opportunity for the United Nations Security Council to serve its purpose, impose necessary sanctions and build the international community against the Bashar al-Assads regime’s inexcusable actions against its people.

Kinzinger: I opposed the bill signed by President Obama, and support its repeal, as I found it did not address the issue of cost nor address the crisis in a fiscally
responsible manner. We should take steps
to increase the number of people with health insurance but the answer is not expanding the role of the federal government or deficit spending. We can affect the price of
premiums and the number of people who can afford insurance by reducing costs and that should be the focus of a bill that
immediately replaces the one signed
by President Obama.
Rohl: We will move this country forward on expanding health care access by focusing first and foremost on jobs! I will make it one of my highest priorities to get Americans back to work with good paying jobs with strong benefits that include quality health care coverage. Continuing to ignore the plight of the unemployed and underemployed by holding votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act wastes valuable time and taxpayer dollars and loses sight of the realities of what middle and working class Americans need in their lives right now. In addition, Congress should work together in a joint effort to ensure people are aware of the multitude of benefits they now have under the ACA. In addition, we must also continue to hold non-compliant insurance companies
accountable for spending our premium dollars on health care, not advertising or CEO pay.

Energy Policy
Rohl: We have reached a point in our country’s history when our dependence on oil, coal, and other limited sources of energy is now a matter of national security. Until we become energy independent our freedom is in danger.
While I am committed to protecting the current mines and plants located in the 16th district, which are a vital source of energy throughout the Midwest, we must begin to phase in new and alternative sources of energy and end the enormous taxpayer funded subsidies to big oil…Right now America ranks eleventh among a group of 20 industrialized nations in investment in renewable energy.
As a nation we need to continue our focus on conservation of energy. When citizens can take control of their own lives and not depend on corporations to do it for us, our community is greatly enhanced. When we practice conservation we win. When corporations insist on increased drilling and more exploration for a limited source we lose.
I support clean, eternal, renewable energy.
Kinzinger: Few challenges are as vital to the future of our nation as the need to dramatically reduce the current and growing reliance of the U.S. on imported petroleum — oil oftentimes imported from regions of the world hostile to the interests of the United States. We need to explore our
country’s vast energy resources, including wind, nuclear, coal, off-shore oil, natural gas and oil shale — steps needed to move us one step closer toward energy independence. The natural gas that has been found in
pockets of shale deposits across the country (including Illinois) is reshaping the energy market and providing a boom to many Illinois manufacturers due to the low price
of energy. Only through the expansion of domestic oil production and advancing other energy resources, will we reduce our foreign dependence, stop relying on countries that do not share our national interests and
ultimately become energy secure.

Kinzinger: The current “one size fits all” methodology requires school districts to spend an inordinate amount of time and three times as much money per pupil to comply with federal regulations.  The closer decision-making is to the classroom, the
better off America’s students will be.
Rohl: Generations of new Americans were educated in public schools and used that education to build America for all of us and to achieve the American Dream for themselves. All of that is threatened now, as politicians funded by special interests, many of whom stand to benefit from the privatization of
public education, push to destroy our public school system. If elected I will work diligently to protect our public schools. I believe…that the future of our country and democracy itself rests on our ability to provide a strong avenue for our children to reach their fullest potential. That means taking the future of education out of the hands of those who know their way around board rooms and lobbying efforts but know little about what it takes to help kids thrive in a classroom. We need to put our children’s academic future back into the hands of
dedicated, professional educators.

Matthew Baker
Staff Writer

Voters in a new 16th district will choose Nov. 6 between challenger Wanda Rohl, an Ottawa Democrat, and first-term U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican currently of Channahon.

The Illinois Valley and La Salle County area constituents will be represented in Congress by the winner, who will represent North Central Illinois as well as new counties in a now-sprawling, L-shaped district stretching from east of Rockford, rural areas west and south of Chicago to the Indiana Line.

The incumbent
On a recent visit to the Illinois Valley, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) found himself shuttling from schools in Ottawa to a trucking facility in La Salle to a hog farm north of Utica in an effort to meet with constituents on the campaign trail.
“This is a normal day whether it’s campaign season or not,” said the freshman congressman now of Channahon, who is running for office in the new 16th District.
Since taking office, Kinzinger has worked to drop in on various locations in his district, currently the 11th, ranging from manufacturing and farm facilities to schools and town hall meetings.

“My goal is to constantly be active, trying to meet folks and not for any political reason — just to understand what the district is made of,” Kinzinger said.

It’s an approach that has endeared him to supporters.

“He’s the same Adam from the day I met him,” said Susan Thornton, La Salle County Republican Central Committee chairman. “He’s approachable, he’s down-to-earth. He just relates to people.”

Kinzinger’s appeal already has brought him one victory this year. He defeated long-time congressman U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) of Egan in a Republican primary for the redrawn district that stretches from the east side of Rockford southeast around the Chicago suburban collar counties to the Indiana border. The district includes the counties of Boone, Ogle, Lee, Bureau, Putnam, La Salle, Grundy, Livingston, Iroquois, and parts of Winnebago, DeKalb, Stark, Will and Ford counties.

With a district so geographically diverse, Kinzinger has been busy meeting voters outside of the Illinois Valley this year.

Thornton said Kinzinger hasn’t made as many local visits as he could, but she said area supporters still will be speaking his praises.

“He hasn’t forgotten us by any means,” she said.

While some of the local voters who first helped Kinzinger into office in 2010 sided with Manzullo in the primary race, they will likely come back to Kinzinger’s side in his race against Democrat Wanda Rohl.

That’s true in the case of Pat Wagner of rural Utica, who sided with the more experienced Manzullo in March.

Kinzinger’s positions still are closely aligned with hers, so he’ll get her vote, but she hopes to see some changes out of the young congressman.

“I’d like to see him work a little more closely with the TEA party,” she said.
Kinzinger said he hasn’t changed his campaigning style much as he transitioned from the primary to the general election.

“Whether I’m running in a primary or whether running against a Democrat I just talk about what I believe,” he said. “And you know what, the 11th District elected me because they liked what they heard. And the 16th District, I believe, will like me for the same reasons.”

One of those reasons likely will be his stance on the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. Kinzinger has made it clear he would gladly vote to repeal the ACA, which otherwise will continue to be rolled out over the next two years.

“The Republican base doesn’t want to see that implemented,” Thornton said.

A possible bump in Kinzinger’s path to re-election is he’s running as an incumbent at a time when Congress isn’t receiving much support from Americans.

A recent Gallup poll has Congress’s approval rating at 21 percent. Although that’s the highest it’s been since May 2011, historically speaking Congress remains in a slump.

Kinzinger said he believes much of that poor rating is the fault of the Senate, but he plans to do his part to change opinions.

“I’m trying in my little part of the world to continue to represent folks and get out to talk to people; and they may not be happy with Congress but I want them to be happy with their congressman. That he’s working as hard as he can. And frankly you work with people whether they’re Republican or Democrat to get some things done,” he said.

The challenger
When the Democratic Party failed to find a candidate to challenge U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger this spring, Wanda Rohl stepped out of the shadows.

Rohl, a social worker from rural Ottawa, had no political experience, but she has spent the past four months learning to campaign while trying to spread her message of being a progressive, rural Democrat to voters in the new 16th District.
“It’s exhausting,” Rohl said. “I’ve also learned there’s a that reason average citizens don’t end up doing this. Because trying to work full-time while running and also not taking the big money, it puts a financial strain on my family and also puts an emotional strain on my marriage. Do I think it’s worth it? Yes.

“I do think it’s worth it and I honestly think we have a good shot because of the common ground I have with a lot of the voters and the fact that people are tired of what’s going on in Washington.”

With no support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rohl has focused on a grassroots campaign, which attracted her volunteer campaign manager Elizabeth Wilke, a political consultant.

Wilke said she has seen numerous politicians from both parties who are full of political rhetoric in public and completely different in private. Rohl isn’t that sort of candidate, she said.

“When the mic turns off, people change. Wanda does not,” Wilke said.
While it is an uphill battle to challenge Kinzinger, who was fresh from a successful primary campaign and who has a more established support system and campaign war chest, Rohl’s supporters believe she’s been picking up fans at each stop along the way.

“It’s David and Goliath, but we have determined volunteers who are putting in their blood, sweat and tears because they believe in Wanda,” Wilke said.
La Salle County Board Member Tom Ganiere, who has been helping with Rohl’s effort, said the best advertisement the campaign has is having Rohl out in public, speaking to voters.

 “People are tired of the little guy always getting kicked in the teeth,” said Rocky Raikes, La Salle County Democrat Central Committee chairman.
“If she does win, I think she’ll be one of the best congressmen we’ve had in this district in a long time,” he added.

An ATV accident nearly a decade ago resulted in her becoming paraplegic, requiring a wheelchair. During that experience and moving forward, a time when she went back to school to receive her degrees in social work, Rohl experienced firsthand the benefits of government social safety net programs. As a result she’s a strong supporter of legislation to protect them.

“I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason and I believe I was put into this chair for a reason and I think it is to speak out for those who cannot speak up for themselves,” she said.

Raikes said he admires how Rohl used those programs to pull herself up in the wake of her personal tragedy.

“When you have a heart like that you’re going to be there to help all the people, not just certain groups like some of them do,” he said.
If elected, she said her top goals would be “to restore bipartisanship to Congress, get people back to work in decent jobs and pass important legislation like the farm bill that have been ignored far too long,”

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Article comment by: MotherEarthSpeaks

The voting electorate has a clear choice in this race.
A SuperPAC candidate that will continue spending on war, outsourcing jobs for corporate and elite benefit, eliminating funds for the poor, disabled, all children, or middle class, and a total lack of compassion or communication with the majority of his constituents.
A brave, hardworking, honest, direct-talking, open candidate from humble beginnings supported by passionate heart-based campaign workers, who will work for all people.
Time to choose, America.

Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Article comment by: MotherEarthSpeaks

This in depth article outlines the major issues and positions of the candidates to guide the informed voter.
Posting 4 days before the election, and well after many have voted absentee or early, it is irrelevant and too late for the entire electorate.
Please gather and report these important pieces of information well before, as their poositions have not changed since early in the race.
Posting the voting record of the incumbant would be helpful as well for the voters, as some do not have the internet.

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