DeKALB – The Democratic candidate for the 16th Congressional District heard from people in DeKalb County on Saturday who have been affected by a range of political issues, from Medicaid and Medicare cuts to paying for college.
Wanda Rohl of Ottawa hosted a two-hour “speak out” at the DeKalb Park District, where she addressed questions about income inequality, the housing market and health care. Rohl strongly advocates for the social safety net she said saved her life. She has been paralyzed from the rib cage down since 2003 as the result of an ATV accident.
DeKalb resident Ashe Del Valle said Medicaid and Medicare cuts make it difficult for her to rely on that social safety net. She told the audience of about 50 people she has a visual impairment and other medical conditions. One medication costs $2,000 a month.
“If they started cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, I’d be in trouble,” she said.
Rohl believes in the Affordable Care Act, and she thinks Medicare is run efficiently. She called for removing the Social Security cap that allows people who make more than $110,000 a year to pay less into the system.
Rohl, a social worker and drug counselor, will face U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno. Kinzinger represents the 11th District, but because of redistricting after the 2010 census, he is seeking the 16th District seat in this year’s election. Kinzinger beat Don Manzullo, R-Egan, in the March 20 Republican primary.
This is the first public office Rohl has pursued.
Rohl sharply criticized Kinzinger for using political action committee money. She said her campaign is an all-volunteer, grass-roots effort because she believes special interest groups should be kept separate.
Julia Layton, a Sycamore resident and a junior at Northern Illinois University, spoke about how difficult it is to get through school with deep cuts to Pell Grants.
“I’m literally living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “Thank God for my parents because I would have been evicted.”
Rohl said this country has the best education system in the world, but it’s too expensive. She pointed out that she spent $27,000 a year recently to attend Aurora University. She said lawmakers need to find a way to make loans less profitable for banks.
Bill Weiss of Kirkland, who relied on the Making Home Affordable Program to keep his home, asked Rohl what she would do to help people who are underwater on mortgages.
While many Republicans want to deregulate banks, Rohl said she wants to see more stringent rules to keep them from “gambling with your home.”
Rohl’s other stances include expanding support services to military veterans and families and eliminating military privatization. She also believes in the labor movement and criticized the right-to-work law, which bars union security agreements.
“We came out of the Depression because we had unions,” she said.