Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Hinsdale) faced some tough political questions when she was endorsed by the Illinois Education Association as its candidate for the 11th Congressional District race Monday, and so did those endorsing her.
Biggert and members of the Illinois Education Association answered questions from the media at Hinsdale South High School in Darien after the announcement was made.
Although some members of the Republican Party have actively said they don't agree with teacher unions, Vice President Kathi Griffin of the Illinois Education Association said it's important to look past Biggert's political party.
"I think it's important that we focus on what the candidate stands for," Griffin said. "It's not whether you are a Democrat or Republican. It's whether you're a friend to education, and that's what we see in Judy Biggert and why we are endorsing her."
Read more about the 11th Congressional District race between Biggert and Democrat Bill Foster.
Question: There are members of the Republican party, such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who have been quoted as saying that he "loves teachers, but hates teachers unions." Where do you fall on this issue?
Biggert: Education unions are the teachers, and they're the heart of public education. They're the ones that are training our children to compete in this world. At some point, I hope we have members of Congress that are willing to sit down with teachers unions.
Question: There's been a lot of negativity in this campaign cycle, a lot of campaign ads being paid for by Super PACs. What is your reaction to what is being said?
Biggert: This is a year we've had Super PACs involved in a way that we haven't seen before. I don't want to say anything about that. We can't, legally ... This [involvement of Super PACs] is something I'm not used to.
Question: Are you noticing a marked difference in tone in this campaign? Why do you think that is?
Biggert: This is a time when we are at a crossroads ... This is happening in extreme times where there is no economic growth. It goes beyond one issue ... We used to work together a lot better, and I think the problem is that there aren't a lot of people who are willing to cross the [party] line.
Question: You represent an area where national laboratories (such as Argonne National Labs and Fermilab) occupy large portions of land, which can not generate revenue in the form of property taxes. Under sequestration, Impact Aid, which had been designed to disburse payments to local educational agencies to compensate, would be cut by $89.98 million nationwide. Where do you stand on the issue? And how would you help out local school districts?
Biggert: I've always really worked to make sure they get that money ... I would work on a bill to reduce the cuts made particularly in the first year for all of education ... This is the toughest year to do that, but it's really owed to the school districts. I don't see how they can [cut Impact Aid] when it's supposed to go to the school districts.
*Editor's Note: Bill Foster's Director of Communication, Eleis Brennan, was out of the office at the time of this article's publication and was unavailable for comment regarding the announcement of the Illinois Education Association's support of Rep. Judy Biggert in the 11th District Congressional race.