A physicist, a doctor and a DuPage County board member have something in common: They are candidates in the Republican primary for the 11th Congressional District.
The circuitous 11th District winds between Joliet to Aurora, taking in most of Bolingbrook and parts of Plainfield, Shorewood and other towns.
The winner of the Republican primary March 15 will face incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, who runs unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Herman White is a physicist who has worked at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia for 42 years.
Should he win, the 11th Congressional District would have the distinction of putting two physicists on the ballot for the general election in November. Foster also is a physicist who formerly worked at Fermilab.
“I had one of my friends call me from Washington to tell me, ‘We’re biting at the bit to say we have two high-energy particle physicists running for Congress in the United States,’ ” White said. “I said, ‘I hope that’s the case.’ ”
Having a scientist in Congress is an asset, White said, given the technical complexities involved in such issues as the Iranian nuclear deal. But he considers his community service more important in his prospective role as a congressman.
White is a former member of Police and Fire Commission in the village of Naperville, where he lives, and of the board of directors of Edward Hospital. He is on the board of trustees at North Central College in Naperville, and he is the vice chair of the board for the Teachers Academy for Math and Science in Chicago.
White believes his experience gives him practical insight on health care, education, student debt and public safety issues.
He wants to see the federal budget passed on time, saying it would promote a serious discussion of how to balance spending with expenses.
White supports changes and even repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but said repeal should only come after the government has something else in its place. He supports the prohibition of pre-existing condition exclusions in insurance policies.
“We have to understand that we have something in place at the same time we repeal it, so we don’t have people who one minute have health care and the next minute do not have health care,” White said.
In Will County, he believes the top concern is jobs. White said Washington needs to free up the economy to promote innovation and job creation.
Nick Stella of Darien is a cardiologist. He meets a lot of people, which Stella believes is an asset for Congress.
“I am the most in touch with the citizens of the 11th District,” he said. “I think our current representatives [in Congress] have forgotten what the term ‘representation’ means. I am out every single day talking with people who live in the district.”
Stella said the most important issue facing the country is the economy.
He favors simplifying the tax code, replacing the current income tax systems with a flat tax, fair tax on consumption, or a combination of both. He said government needs to change policies to boost the economy.
“One way you can do this is take the handcuffs off the small business sector,” he said. “We all know that they’re the drivers of the economy.”
In Illinois, he said, representatives from Congress should work with state legislators to improve the economy. Jobs are leaving the state, he said, because of high taxes and high costs for workers compensation insurance.
“One of the big issues in Will County is we need to get manufacturing back,” he said. “Caterpillar is pulling out. There are a lot of good manufacturing jobs in the 11th District that have gone away.”
Stella supports repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
“The changes that are going on in medicine are not changes for the good,” he said. “The Affordable Care Act has forced millions of people into Medicaid.”
Stella believes an issue on which he can make a difference in Congress is the nation’s heroin epidemic. Doctors in the 11th District have been seen the problem for years, he said, and the best way to address it is to cut off the supply.
“The heroin is coming in from outside the country,” Stella said. “We need to secure the borders.”
Tonia Khouri’s campaign manager told The Herald-News she would not be available for an interview. The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times said in their editorial endorsements for the 11th District that Khouri was not available for interviews with those publications either. Neither publication endorsed her.
Khouri is an Aurora resident and a member of the DuPage County Board. She has strong Republican Party backing. Her website lists dozens of endorsements from elected officials. It does not offer her positions on any issues.