Where do the Republican candidates for the 13th congressional district stand?

By Eleanor Black

To see where the Democratic candidates stand, click here.

Candidates running for the 13th congressional district met Thursday night for a public forum to discuss both national and local issues at the Champaign City Council Chambers. All candidates beside the incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis were in attendance.

Michael Firsching, a veterinarian from Midway, and Erika Harold, an attorney from Urbana and former Miss America, are running against Rep. Davis in the Republican primary.

The candidates for the democratic primary are David Green, who works at the University’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs; George Gollin, a physics professor at the University; and Ann Callis, a former judge from Edwardsville.

The primaries are scheduled for March 18.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Harold: “Representing a district with so many colleges and universities is something that would be an honor because there are so many young people who have great aspirations, and wanting to ensure that they have the ability to attend college is important. When I would look at things that I would cut, I would not cut Federal Pell Grants because I want to make sure that that on-ramp into our economy and our educational system is something that’s important. … If we start to cut Pell Grants, then we make it impossible for a young person who has the academic potential but not the financial means to be able to attend college.”

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Firsching: “One of the things that’s really happened in recent years is the skyrocketing inflation of the cost of education. The No. 1 cause for that is too much money from the federal government being available via loans. … What we need to be doing is to bring universities back more into a market model where there’s more competition. Instead of competing to see which students you can attract in to bring in all that loan money, we need to be bringing down the cost of education via competitive market.”

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Davis: Though Davis was not at the event, his website states his position on higher education. “I want to work with the colleges and universities in my district to find ways the federal government can help them control costs. Making sure students and their families have access to information and financial counseling so they can make the best decision when choosing a school is an important step in making college affordable and controlling the amount of debt students incur. Most importantly, we must grow our economy so our college graduates can find the jobs they need to start careers and begin to repay their loans.”

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IMMIGRATION 

Firsching: “It is normal and natural for people to travel. … I think we’ve unnecessarily burdened that process in this country. I would like to reduce much of the paperwork and bureaucratic nonsense we have in regards to immigration. I’m not quite saying we’re at the point where we can have open borders, but the process of people traveling in this country needs to be much freer. … We need to change our whole philosophy of how we’re handling immigration.”

Harold: “I would want to seek a balance between making sure that we have an upholding of the rule of law, but also celebrating the fact that we are a nation of immigrants. So two specific things that I would support is enhanced guest worker programs and also enhanced high-tech visa programs.”

Davis: Though Davis was not at the event, his spokesman, Andrew Flach, had an interview with The Daily Illini published on Feb. 6, 2013 stating his position. “Congressman Davis believes that any immigration reform proposal must begin with strengthening our border control,” Flach said. “Unless we can prevent people from entering this country illegally, any attempt to reform our immigration system will fail.

ENVIRONMENT 

Harold: “First of all, I would want to focus on specific environmental regulations and risks. Right now when we talk about climate change as an issue, people can debate at very philosophical levels. When you look at actual risks to communities and environmental risks, It’s really important that you give businesses (and people) that might be subject to the regulations the ability to weigh in and then do a cost-benefit analysis. I would want the debate to be brought much more to a concrete, finite matter.”

Firsching: “We can’t fix (global warming) just by putting a carbon tax on the United States. All across the world, societies are getting better at using fossil fuels to get ahead because it’s a good, cheap form of energy. We can’t tell them not to do that because we’ve gotten this country ahead about it.” 

Davis: Though Davis was not at the event, he wrote an Op-Ed with Rep. John Shimkus, R-15, on Sept. 30, 2013 expressing his concern with the EPA’s New Source Performance Standards, which limits the release of carbon dioxide for new power plants. In it, he said, “It will kill coal and raise electricity costs in the future.” But he also said, “We understand that the climate changes. Temperatures rise and fall over time and even minor changes can have great effects, as evidenced in Greenland. And we owe it to future generations to ensure that our environment is safe and clean.” He also supports the Keystone XL Pipeline.

MINIMUM WAGE 

Harold: “I wouldn’t favor raising the federal minimum wage because I think that it would have the economic consequence of having employers reduce the number of people that they employ. If states feel that that’s something they want to do, they always have the ability to raise their state minimum wage above the federal.”

Firsching: “No I wouldn’t. Minimum wage sounds great, all we to do for people to make more money is to order and mandate that they make more money. But you cannot mandate people to be more productive. If you make a minimum wage law and raise it to $30 an hour, do you think everyone’s going to start making $30 an hour? No, anybody who can’t produce $30 an hour is going to lose a job. That’s true whether it’s $30, $20, $15 or $12.”

Davis: Though Davis was not at the event, his campaign website relays his support for keeping government from over-regulating businesses. “Creating an environment of certainty where businesses can afford to take a risk and expand their payroll is something I am focused on with nearly every bill I cosponsor and vote I take in the House,” he said in a statement on the website.