Candidate speaks on education, economy

By Eric Krol

Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Al Hofeld aired his views on education, health care and the economy Wednesday night before a packed house at the Holmes Student Center’s Heritage Room.

Hofeld, speaking before about 200 people, said he is trying to unseat two-term incumbent Alan Dixon in order to “take back government from the politicians.”

Hofeld was introduced by campaign worker and son Brian Hofeld and then set off on a 45-minute speech and question and answer session, detailing his plans to “get America productive again.”

Outlining his 13-point plan, Hofeld said he would generate money for national health insurance and college access plans by cutting defense spending in half over a five-year period. “The threat to America’s future is no longer military, it is economic,” he said.

Hofeld estimated the nation could save $66 billion during the first year of his plan. He also said he would close the corporate tax loopholes that reward companies which leave the country.

Hofeld, who has been running third in the polls behind Dixon and Carol Mosley-Braun, also detailed his five-part plan to make higher education accessible.

Hofeld suggested giving need-based loans to all students who want to go to college and allowing repayment of the loans later. Graduates would pay back loans through income withholding capped off at a maximum of 5 percent of monthly income. This would eliminate bank loans and the $2 billion annual student loan default, he added.

Hofeld’s plan also would allow students who want to go into public service professions such as teaching and nursing to defer their loan repayments. Other aspects of the plan would double the size of the Pell Grant, give credits to high school students who do volunteer public service work and provide training incentives for the 70 percent of high school students who are not college bound.

Hofeld also made known his views on abortion, where he is pro-choice, and affirmative action, which Hofeld said he favors.

Hofeld also attacked Dixon, saying “the special interest groups put their money where Dixon’s mouth is.” Hofeld favors term limitations and said he will not accept a dime of special interest money. Hofeld is a lawyer with estimated earnings of $3 million a year.

Mark Ludden, an NIU law graduate and Democratic state representative candidate, and John Nelson, a Democratic candidate for state senate, also spoke at the event.