Eighteenth Congressional candidates spoke during a Kiwanis meeting today on their priorities (national security, economic development and education) and shared their thoughts on No Child Left Behind Act, which is up for renewal with the next Congress and universal health care, among other topics.
PEORIA — Two out of the three Republican candidates for the 18th Congressional District said their top priority is national security, while the other says building the economy is most important.
State Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, and John Morris, vice president for development at WTVP, Channel 47, said keeping Americans safe tops their list.
"For whatever reason, there are tens of millions of radical people in this world that hate us for who we are. They hate us for our faith, they hate us for our capitalism, they hate us for our freedoms. On nine-eleven we were all too reminded of that," Morris said Thursday at a South-West Kiwanis Club meeting in which the candidates were invited.
Heartland Partnership CEO Jim McConoughey cited the importance of propelling the economy and generating jobs.
"The primary way we’re going to do that is by prioritizing the types of jobs we can get and develop for our children and for our brothers and sisters and trying to structure this in a way that allows folks to get the skills to be able to also get those jobs," McConoughey said.
Candidates also weighed in on the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which will be rewritten and re-authorized by the next Congress. The Act created unfunded mandates that have overburdened school districts nationwide.
Morris said the federal government plays too large a role in local education. Schock said he wants to use his experience on the Peoria District 150 School Board to fix "many of the kinks as are the result of any massive overhaul of any federal program."
McConoughey said although the Act positively focused the federal government on education, the bill’s rewriting either must attach funding to fill required mandates, or remove some of the mandates.
None of the candidates said they favor a universal health care plan, but all mostly agree costs must be controlled. "I’m tired of people telling me how the U.S. is the richest country in the world and how we have to provide healthcare like Canada and Europe," Schock said, adding those countries’ healthcare systems are flawed.
McConoughey said more focus should be shifted to preventative health measures to keep escalating costs down.
McConoughey, Morris and Schock are seeking the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood. Dick Versace is running unopposed as a Democrat.
Karen McDonald can be reached at (309) 686-3285 or email@example.com.