GENEVA – A group of about 20 people picketed Wednesday afternoon at the Geneva office of U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, protesting because he has not agreed to participate in a candidate forum with Democratic challenger Dennis Anderson, a Gurnee resident.
Members of the League of Women Voters organizations of Central Kane County, the Elgin Area, McHenry County and DeKalb County said they asked Hultgren several times to take part in a forum before the Nov. 4 general election, but neither Hultgren nor his staff would respond with a date.
Asked via email about why he hadn’t agreed on a forum date, Hultgren wrote that when he sat next to Anderson at the Kane County Chronicle editorial board, the differences between them about the role of government couldn’t be clearer.
“It’s to be seen whether or not another forum is necessary after my opponent outlined his big government, big taxes philosophy that is robbing hardworking Americans of having a better life than their parents’ did. He would be just another rubber stamp on [President Barack] Obama’s failed policies,” Hultgren’s email states.
At his office, protesters were holding up homemade signs. They started at Hultgren’s district office, then went on to his campaign office at 7 W. State St., Geneva. Drivers of cars and trucks beeped their horns as they passed by, and some gave a thumbs-up as they viewed the signs calling for Hultgren to debate. Crystal Lake resident Mike Montes, 65, said that as the area’s representative, Hultgren should be willing to debate Anderson.
“He should be allowing us to ask him questions to find out where he stands on issues and to defend or support his voting record,” Montes said. “And I don’t understand how he cannot be willing to come to a debate, to not allow his constituents to ... ask him questions.”
Batavia resident Kim Liang, 30, said it would not be fair to voters if Hultgren would not participate in a candidate forum.
“I think his constituents would like to see him debate,” Liang said. “He keeps getting elected and elected. I feel like he’s refusing because he thinks he’s a shoe-in.”
Various signs challenged Hultgren on several issues, including that he voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Protesters said they wanted the issues to be aired out in a public forum.
Huntley resident Jan Miller, 71, said a candidate forum is an important way for voters to be informed.
“This is the reason we would like Randy Hultgren to debate Dennis Anderson, so that the voters have a chance to hear both the candidate and the incumbent on important issues,” Miller said.
Patti Lackman, acting president of the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County, said the organization is non-partisan but frustrated that it could not schedule Hultgren for a forum.
“Then the voters don’t know where the candidates stand ... on the issues, and then you don’t know what you are voting for,” Lackman said.
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