Editor's note: Following is the text of a letter we sent Wednesday to U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, and his Democrat opponent Cheri Bustos of East Moline proposing a series of point- counterpoint pieces. Next week we intend to issue a similar invitation to General Assembly candidates. |
Dear Mr. Schilling and Ms. Bustos:
Congratulations on being chosen to represent your political parties in November and on your willingness to serve.
There is much at stake in this election both for our country, and for our community, which continues to struggle amidst a slow recovery from one of the worst recessions in our history.
As always, there are national implications to the race. But like most people in the Quad-Cities, we have always believed that the real job of our lawmaker in Washington is to represent us, not national special interests and political parties.
In order for voters to choose the best candidate for that job, they need more than slick direct mailers, sound bites and television ads. The need for a calm oasis for a reasonable political discussion has never been more important than now, as a flood of unregulated campaign dollars add to the relentless drum beat of negative broadcast advertising.
Thank you both for agreeing to debate in various parts of the district, and for accepting the invitation to meet face to face in the Oct. 11 session we are sponsoring with WQAD-TV. In the redrawn 17th Congressional District, such debates may be the only chance some constituents will have to make face-to-face comparisons. Of course, the drawback to such forums is that they do not allow for more than superficial treatment of the important issues facing our community.
Toward that end, we are renewing our biennial offer to the candidates seeking to represent the Quad-Cities equal space on our Viewpoints pages beginning Sept. 23.
We are inviting you to write six columns that will appear side-by-side on our Sunday pages in the weeks before the election. Our editorial board has come up with topics we believe are of interest to voters. They are:
Week 1: Jobs. What action will you take to help create and retain jobs in the Quad-Cities area? Please, be specific.
Week 2: The nation's finances are in shambles and the national debt grows. Across the board cuts of 11 percent mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 threaten all areas of the budget, including defense spending. Would you pledge to make debt reduction your No. 1 priority? Can you offer 10 specific recommendations for tackling the nation's economic problems and avoiding sequestration?
Week 3: Of course, sequestration is only one issue facing the Quad-Cities No. 1 employer. The Pentagon is focusing on creating a leaner, meaner more modern military. What do you see as the Rock Island Arsenal's role in that future and, specifically, how would you promote and protect it?
Week 4: Congress has not agreed on a farm bill. What should a new farm bill look like and what must be done to ensure its passage?
Week 5: The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act and efforts to repeal it have repeatedly failed, but health care reform is by no means a fait accompli. Do you support the ACA? Why or why not? If you oppose all or parts of the act, what would you replace them with? Please be as specific as you can.
Week 6: You may address anything you wish to in this final column, scheduled to be published Oct. 28.
Guidelines for the series of pieces are simple:
-- Columns must be written by you, not your staff.
-- Each must be no longer than 600 words.
--u Deadline will be noon the Wednesday before publication.
Columns should be e-mailed to email@example.com (or, in the event of technical problems, dropped off at our office at 1720 5th Ave., Moline). If we get just one column in a given week, we will run it, along with an editor's note explaining that the other candidate declined an invitation to present a view.
Editing will be limited unless there are significant length problems, in which case we will try to work with you to make the necessary cuts. We reserve the right to refuse to run submissions, though we do not expect to need to exercise it.
Again, we thank you both for taking the time during this busy election season to provide this service to our readers and to our community.
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