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Health care, economy top issues in 11th District race

The Affordable Care Act and the economy are among the issues in the race for the 11th Congressional District.

Naperville businessman Bert Miller, conservative talk show host Ian Bayne of Aurora, Grundy County Board member Chris Balkema and state Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville, are running for the Republican nomination in the March 18 primary. Lisle resident Craig Robbins recently dropped out of the race.

The 11th District includes all or parts of Bolingbrook, Joliet, New Lenox and Shorewood, as well as Aurora, Naperville and Woodridge. U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, has held the seat since November 2012 after defeating former U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert.

Miller said he wants to see the economy growing faster than it is.

“The economy is moving forward, but at a snail’s pace,” Miller said. “I believe the economy will fix itself. If we can get people in Congress to work together to address the Social Security problem, to jointly fix Obamacare and to work on our deficit problems, the economy will take care of itself.”

Miller recently stepped down after three decades managing Phoenix Closures, a manufacturer of plastic bottle caps and lids headquartered in Naperville.

“I understand what it takes to make a budget and stick with it,” Miller said. “I think I am a person who can bring people together in Washington. We’re not going to solve our problems by ignoring one another.”

Senger has been a state representative since 2009. Before that, she was on the Naperville City Council from 2002 to 2008.

“As state legislator, I’ve taken on the toughest issues,” she said. “You have to work with people, but you also have to incorporate your principles into the solution. And I’ve been able to do that.”

Regarding the state of public education, Senger said that individual states and not the federal government should take the lead in implementing standards.

“No Child Left Behind failed,” Senger said. “Each state and each district in the state is different. Every household is different and every child is different. That’s why you have to customize it uniquely to each working area.”

In announcing in September that he was running for Congress, Balkema said he would work to break the gridlock in Congress.

“That is unproductive to the average family in America that is trying to make ends meet,” he said.

Balkema has been a manager at Caterpillar for 20 years and has been on the Grundy County Board since 2010. His priorities include cutting the tax rate to stimulate the economy and repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with free market health care principles, such as allowing insurance to be sold across state lines.

Bayne criticized his competitors for being “too similar to Bill Foster to beat Bill Foster.”

“I think right now what the American people need is a person who will go to war for the future of the country,” he said. “The thing that I do is that I fight for people.”

His priorities include repealing the Affordable Care Act, restoring government spending to 1990 levels and reducing federal control of schools.

• This article has been corrected. The initial publication stated the 11th District went into portions of Grundy County. The district does not go into Grundy County.

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