Senate candidates to debate at NU, address student issues

Democratic primary candidates for U.S. Senate will debate tonight at a free forum co-sponsored by the Northwestern College Democrats and the Democratic Party of Evanston.

Alicia Pardo, president of the College Democrats, said five of the seven candidates vying for the nomination are expected for the 7 p.m. debate at Ryan Family Auditorium.

“We want to get students involved with the process,” said Pardo, a Communication senior. “Even though there is a presidential election out there, we want students to know there is a very imporatant, nationally recognized Senate election here, and we want to get people educated about it.”

The candidates expected to attend are state Sen. Barack Obama, state Comptroller Dan Hynes, lawyer Gery Chico, health care executive and nurse Joyce Washington and talk show personality Nancy Skinner.

Candidate Blair Hull declined the invitation, and candidate Maria Pappas cited scheduling difficulties, according to Pardo.

“A lot of the population is undecided because they are not as informed about this race,” Pardo said, adding that Obama and Hynes appear to be the front-runners.

Bonnie Wilson, president of the Democratic Party of Evanston, said the 9th Congressional District Coordinated Campaign and the New Trier Democratic Organization co-sponsored the debate, making NU “convenient to everybody.”

The debate is expected to last 90 minutes. After opening statements candidates will answer questions from the moderators and then from the audience.

The moderators will be Director of Undergraduate Studies Mark Witte, College Democrats External Relations Chair Ilya Lipkind and Democratic Party of Evanston Committeeman Jeanne Cleveland Bernstein.

“There are specific issues that college students want to hear about, and the moderators have done a good job of framing it towards what college students are concerned about,” Pardo said.

The candidates are competing for the Senate seat to be vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald after the Nov. 9 election. The Illinois general primary is March 16. The deadline to register to vote is Feb. 17.

— Alexander Pegg

Setting the record straight:

A Wednesday article misspelled the name of Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

The Daily regrets the error.