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U.S. Senator

Voting will take place Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Voters will be able to select 1 candidates in this race. The 1 candidates with the most votes will be elected.

Winner in this race will be elected for a term of 6 years.

Click a question below to display the candidates' answers to that question.

Why are you the best candidate for Senate?

James Oberweis

Career politician Dick Durbin has been in Washington far too long. The reason he needs replacing is the utter failure of his policies. His heavy taxation, heavy regulation and heavy spending policies have led to the worst economic recovery in modern U.S. history and devastating results for poor and middle class families in Illinois. Since he last ran for re-election, the typical Illinois family is making $5,053 less per year while cost of living was rising.?We simply need to go in a different direction if we want different results.?As a successful entrepreneur and a non-politician, I know what it takes to encourage growth, jobs and prosperity.  Unlike my opponent, I will encourage business and business growth instead of attacking it.  I will work hard to reform our tax code to simplify returns for everyone, while lowering rates and encouraging growth.?I will also seek a better future for our youngsters by favoring school choice.  We need to make sure all students and parents have access to good schools and a promising future.  Dick Durbin opposes school choice.?We have tried Dick Durbin’s approach and it has failed Illinois families. It is time to go in a different direction.

Richard Durbin

I’m running for re-election to continue working to expand and lift up the middle class. As the Senate’s Assistant Majority Leader, I’ve secured billions of dollars in federal funding for economic development projects in Illinois. And I’ve worked across the aisle with my Republican colleagues including Sen. Mark Kirk to tackle complex issues including efforts to reduce the federal deficit and national debt. There is more to be done. Our country and my state are facing tough economic challenges, and Illinois needs a Senator who will continue advocating for them and not special interests.

Sharon Hansen

I am a citizen candidate. I have never held a political office. I am not a millionaire or a billionaire. I have absolutely no connections in DC. I can much better understand the problems and concerns the average American has. My candidacy isn't about me. It is about our broken government and what can be done by honest citizens who simply want to change the direction of our country. This can only be accomplished by candidates who have a strong moral compass. I don’t have a greedy bone in my body. I’m a giver, not a taker. I believe that we only need our Constitution and the Ten Commandments to guide us. Both will guide me in office, along with daily thoughtful prayer and support of people that I trust. My goal is to have a 100% freedom rating. I only plan to serve one term, but I am certain that if elected, at the end of my term, the people of Illinois will plead with me to run again.

The U.S. faces a $17 trillion (and rising) debt burden. Can this debt be paid down without raising taxes? Where can spending be cut?

James Oberweis

There is no question that career politicians like Dick Durbin have an insatiable appetite to spend our money even though we clearly can’t afford it.  During Durbin’s last term, we have averaged deficits of more than $1 trillion/year and the national debt has nearly doubled to $17.7 trillion. Our spending is clearly out of control and it is helping dull our economic growth and jobs and prosperity for the poor and middle class.  The single best thing we can do is reform our individual and corporate tax codes by eliminating loopholes and special tax breaks and lowering rates for most individuals and companies.  Doing so would unleash an economic revival in the U.S. that would help most Illinois families.

Richard Durbin

The deficit has been cut in half since President Obama took office. We have cut spending and allowed certain tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire. We are moving in the right direction, but an aging population and the strain that will put on Social Security and Medicare as well as tax loopholes that allow the wealthy and corporations to get out of paying their fair share of taxes will challenge our ability to sustain this kind of progress. Sustaining this progress cannot be achieved by only cutting spending or raising revenue--it will require thoughtful changes to both revenue and spending. I served on the Simpson Bowles Fiscal Commission and voted in support of the proposal that would have reduced the federal debt by more than $4 trillion through a combination of spending reductions and revenue increases. Although the proposal failed to obtain enough votes to force a vote in Congress, six of us — three Democrats and three Republicans — continued working together for another two years on a plan that would contain costs and increase revenue to reduce the debt and put the country on a more sustainable fiscal footing.

Sharon Hansen

There are many places where debt can easily be reduced without anything bad happening because of it. We have 432 agencies, many are duplicates and don’t do anything. They can be dismantled. The Dept. of Education spends $38 billion a year and has never and will never improve education. The parents and teachers should be educating our children and the federal government has no part in that. The department is unconstitutional and a huge waste of money. One down 431 to go.

Where do you stand on immigration reform?

James Oberweis

First, I believe the public demands that any solution to our immigration problem be negotiated in a bi-partisan fashion.  Dick Durbin and his partisan colleagues passed another sweeping measure — Obamacare — without a single vote from Republicans and this partisan maneuver is a big reason the legislation never has had the support of the American people.  President Obama is threatening to change our immigration laws by executive fiat — a move that Dick Durbin apparently supports.  That would be another disaster for our country and would violate the spirit — if not the letter — of our Constitution. I am pro-immigrant and pro-legal immigration. We should allow children who were brought here illegally many years ago and who have grown up here to apply for citizenship.  However, the parents who broke our laws should not be granted amnesty and should have to apply for citizenship in a way that doesn’t place them ahead of others who already have sought legal status.  Further, we must secure our borders. We also have to be careful to craft our reform in such a way that we don’t further destroy the job prospects of poor and middle class Americans who already are suffering greatly under the policies of Dick Durbin and the Democrats in the weakest economic recovery in modern U.S. History. If I am elected I will work hard to find a consensus that is fair to everyone.

Richard Durbin

Our current immigration system is broken. I worked with a bipartisan group of eight senators last year to write a comprehensive immigration reform law that would strengthen the security of our borders, crack down on employers who violate our immigration laws, give people who have lived in the U.S. and not committed any serious crimes — including young people whose parents brought them to this country illegally — a chance to earn their citizenship and improve the visa system to protect American workers and assist employers in need of specialized skills. The Senate passed our comprehensive reform bill, but unfortunately the House has refused to even consider it. Updating our immigration laws will be good for national security and for our economy. But it’s also important for immigrant families who are broken apart or who live in fear. It’s time to fix our laws so that millions of people who live here without documentation can come out of the shadows, register with the government, submit to a background check, learn English, work legally, pay taxes, and begin to earn their way to citizenship.

Sharon Hansen

With the current disaster happening in America with open borders, I can’t even address immigration reform. We FIRST need to secure our borders. We need to kick out all illegal aliens who have been encouraged to come to America in recent years by our current administration on both sides of the aisle. We have terrorists who our government financed, trained, and encouraged to come to America. This is totally unacceptable. Our own government has terrorized people all over the middle east to the point that they hate us. It’s not “we the people” who have done this. It is our very own government and everyone in our current government needs to be voted out of office by the people and start over with new people to represent us. Special interests run our country, not our elected representatives. When this is done, then we can address immigration reform.

What can be changed or improved about the Affordable Care Act? If you favor its repeal, what yould you replace it with?

James Oberweis

Obamacare is fatally flawed. We need to go back to the drawing board, preserving some of the positives of the program such as including young adults in parents’ plans until age 26, allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, and some type of acceptance of pre-existing conditions, but also returning to the free market so that we can buy the insurance we need, not the insurance the government says we need. The current law already is failing under its own weight.  New health care reform must be bi-partisan — unlike the current law that was engineered by Dick Durbin and his allies without a single vote from the opposition party.  We cannot make large changes to our economy in blatantly partisan fashion and expect public acceptance.

Richard Durbin

No; the Affordable Care Act provides millions of Americans access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage. I'm finding people, as I go across Illinois, who, for the first time in their lives, have an opportunity for affordable health insurance for their families. However it is not a perfect law. I am eager to work with members of Congress from both parties to find ways to improve the law, including simplifying the paperwork for mid-sized employers to comply.

Sharon Hansen

The (Un)Affordable Care Act should be totally repealed. Government is not able to handle the huge burden this places on the people with additional costs, worse coverage, and poorer quality. The current administration is continuing a plan started in the early 1900’s. That plan is to control everything in our lives. They want stupid people who will do what they are told. These are the exact same steps followed by dictators in other countries. This system never works and our government should know that. If the size of government was reduced to only what the constitution says it is responsible for, we wouldn’t need to pay any income taxes. All that money for all those agencies could be returned to the people and then we could pay our own medical costs and help out our poorer friends as well.

Approval ratings for Congress are far from ideal, and that's largely because of partisan rhetoric and the inability to compromise. If elected, will you be willing to reach across the aisle and work with members of the opposite party to resolve this country's many issues? Explain.

James Oberweis

I believe that the public is fed up with career politicians.  The problem with them is they tend to act not in the public interest but in the interest of their political futures.  That is the problem with Washington — too many career politicians.  If I am elected, I will only serve a maximum of two terms.  My actions will be guided by the best interests of the people without regard to my political future.  That is the model the Founding Fathers believed best and I intend to embody it.

Richard Durbin

Neither party can govern effectively on its own, and where we have been able to make positive change it’s been a shared effort by members of both parties. Last summer, I approached Senator Lamar Alexander, who shared my interest in preventing an interest rate hike for student loan borrowers, and we soon had a small bipartisan group in the Senate working with the White House and the House of Representatives to negotiate a compromise that would be enacted into law to reduce federal student loan interest rates for borrowers. In 2009 and 2010, I worked with then-Senator Judd Gregg and a bipartisan group who wanted to update the food safety system at the Food and Drug Administration. And we did, even though neither of us thought the law that was enacted was the perfect way to improve the system. We can make policy changes that both parties agree are good for the country, but we have to be willing to listen to each other and make compromises. Right now, I am working with Republican Senators on several legislative priorities: Senator John McCain to advance an international treaty recognizing the rights of people with disabilities, with Senator Mike Lee to improve the sentencing laws for non-violent drug offenders, and with Senator Mike Enzi to allow brick and mortar retailers to compete more fairly with on-line retailers.

Sharon Hansen

I am uniquely qualified to reach across the aisle since I would not be the same party as any other senator unless other libertarian senators are elected. There will be issues that I side with Democrats and issues where I will side with Republicans. I will be on whatever side that sides with the American people. For me, it is all about the people since that is who elected me and who I will represent.

No Child Left Behind and the Common Core State Standards are education initiatives that have – and will – dramatically impact students in this area. What specifically do you think those impacts should be? If not with Common Core, how do you propose improving U.S. education performance vs. foreign countries that are doing much better? How do you view the state of education in the U.S. and Illinois? And what if anything would you look to change?

James Oberweis

Common Core has turned into a top down Washington solution to curriculum reform and I oppose it. I support all efforts to increase school choice for parents and children.  Competition between schools makes all schools better and stronger just as it does in the private sector.  Those schools that cannot compete will be forced out of existence and new schools with new and better ideas will emerge.  It is a crucial issue for all of America and particularly in minority communities where students are sometimes trapped in bad schools.  I’ve spent lots of time on the South and West Sides of Chicago during this campaign and that is one of the most frequently mentioned issues of concern.  I differ sharply from my opponent in this race.  Dick Durbin was among the Democrats in Congress who killed the DC Opportunity Grant program, a shameful display of putting the interests of union bosses over the interests of children.

Richard Durbin

We must ensure that each and every child has the opportunity to learn and thrive no matter where they live and public charter schools have increasingly become an important part of that effort. I’ve worked with Sen. Kirk to introduce bipartisan legislation which make the expansion and replication of successful charter school models eligible for federal funding. The All Students Achieving through Reform (All-STAR) Act would also encourage states to be better regulators of charter schools by giving funding priority to states and other entities that require detailed performance reports. Illinois, like 44 other states, has chosen to adopt the Common Core learning standards for K-12 education. This is the first year these states are teaching to a new set of standards, and the transition is not without some challenges. The premise of bringing more consistency to local and state education curriculum makes sense. Whether this is the right approach or the best way to implement the approach will become more clear as school districts and teachers adapt to the new standards.

Sharon Hansen

The state of education in the United States is a disaster due to No Child Left Behind and Common Core. All federal government interference should be removed from the equation. The Federal government has no right and no need to be involved with the education of our children. When the Federal government gets involved with ANYTHING, quality goes down and cost goes up no matter how well intentioned. I would like to see the education return to the parents and the teachers. Teachers have been taught to teach and they know that no two children are alike and each learns in different ways. Treating all children alike does a disservice to the children and to the education of the teachers. The Department of Education costs $38 billion a year. That money should be returned to taxpayers and they can use that to pay the teachers to teach their children.

What role should the U.S. play in regards to the ongoing conflicts throughout the Mideast, including conflicts instigated by terror groups?

James Oberweis

Although it was inevitable that U.S. troops would be largely withdrawn from Iraq once Obama became president, the manner in which it was done was botched.  First, the administration has a troubling habit of announcing its troop level intentions in advance, which is strategically unwise.   In Iraq, it was a huge mistake not to forge a status of forces agreement that left a reasonable number of U.S. troops.  Whatever one thinks of the Iraq War, when Obama took office he had a relatively stable Iraq.  He said so himself.  By pulling our troops out completely, we created the obvious void that led to ISIS overrunning large parts of the country.  In general, in the Mideast, we are going to have to recalibrate our strategy to combat the growing ISIS threat.  The administration has been slow to react to the threat and needs to step up its game.  We need to put pressure on ISIS wherever they reside and prevent them from gaining the necessary strength to attack America.  There appears no feasible strategy other than destroying ISIS.

Richard Durbin

I agree with the President's current proposal for Afghanistan, but ultimately we should see how the now-disputed Afghan election is resolved before assessing our final military presence. American servicemen and women, and many civilians, have given their lives in what is now the longest war in US history. The Afghan people must take over the long term security of their own country. In Iraq, a war I voted against, the American people paid dearly in terms of lives and treasure. Thousands more returned home with devastating injuries. The entire war was based on a false premise that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And despite all the effort made by so many brave Americans and others, the Iraqi political leadership largely squandered the opportunity given to build a new modern democratic nation. No amount of American military personnel or money can solve that problem for the Iraqi people. I believe President Obama is correct in conducting limited military to protect American interests in Iraq and pushing back ISIS, while demanding that the Iraqi parliament form a more inclusive and effective government, including a military that can secure the nation. The United States has many important diplomatic and security interests in the Middle East, including the security of key allies such as Israel and Jordan. Yet, the US cannot also solve age old divisions over religion and colonial borders. It can only help nations willing to help themselves build more open and tolerant societies.

Sharon Hansen

The US needs to stop interfering in other countries’ affairs. Countries in the Middle East have been fighting for centuries. It’s hard to watch people suffering anywhere and it’s noble to want to help them but the fact is that these people were better off when they had their dictators. Our interference has killed more innocents than were killed by their dictators. We are the cause of the current terrorists who are spreading hate and killing thousands of innocent people. Their behavior is in response to what the United States has done to their countries. That’s why they hate us. We need to stay out of foreign entanglements. Americans would certainly be safer if we would. The American people are in more danger than they would be if our government had minded its own business. It is our government who makes the decisions to meddle in the affairs of other countries but it’s the people who suffer.

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