Political Forum Tonight Features State, Federal Hopefuls

The nonpartisan Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization ("IVI-IPO")'s Far North chapter will hold an endorsement session tonight at the Wilmette Library, 1242 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette, offering residents an opportunity to compare multiple candidates up for election on Nov. 4. At 7 pm, the group will consider the contested race for 17th Dist. State Representative between incumbent Republican Elizabeth Coulson and Democratic challenger Daniel Biss. At 7:30, the 9th Dist. State Senate race

between incumbent Democrat Jeffrey Schoenberg and Republican challenger Brendan Appel will be taken up. At 8:00, the 10th District foes for Congress, incumbent Republican Mark Kirk and Democratic challenger Dan Seals, will present their cases.

All of Evanston is within the 9th State Senate district, and those neighborhoods of Evanston west of Ewing are within the 17th representative district. None of Evanston is in the 10th Congressional, but the Seals-Kirk race is being closely watched nationally as a potential swing district. Similarly, the Biss-Coulson race is garnering attention, as Coulson has thus far managed to retain her seat despite the district tending more and more Democratic (Kerry-Edwards won it in 2004).

The IVI-IPO sessions are not debates, but typically consist of presentations from candidates, who have completed exhaustive questionnaires, and often (tho not always) the candidates attend personally to make their pitch, with opportunity for questions by the group. The endorsement sessions are open to the public, altho only district IVI-IPO members can vote.


On Monday night, both Daniel Biss and Rep. Coulson delivered impressive presentations. The approach was civil and positive. Neither candidate criticized the other. Rep. Coulson pointed to her record, engaged in some detailed discussion with audience members on health care issues, and said that the legislature benefited by having a Republican who did not vote strictly on party lines. Daniel Biss posited that he would represent the views of the district on a consistent basis, and across a broader spectrum of progressive issues, and would be independent of Democratic leadership in Springfield. The district vote recommended 5-1 to the state board an endorsement of Biss.

Neither candidate for state senate showed up. Those members present who lived in the 9th state senate district voted to recommend an endorsement of Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg, who has received the group's endorsement in the past. It is possible that the state board may reject this recommendation and send it back to the chapter for reconsideration; some members argued that a candidate who did not apply for an endorsement, return a questionnaire, or show up, should not be endorsed.

Dan Seals presented his case for Congress; his opponent, Rep. Mark Kirk (R.-10), did not show. Seals, running to the left of Kirk in the North Shore district, stated that Kirk votes with the GOP party line over 80% of the time, and that he would be a more forceful advocate for withdrawal from Iraq and a less oil-based energy policy. Seals received the group's recommendation of endorsement.

For readers interested in IVI-IPO, here is the link to the group's website.