SPRINGFIELD -- David Gill, the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 13th District, received an ovation from a crowd at a Springfield church Tuesday night when he alone pledged to support tax cuts only for those making less than $250,000 a year.
A surrogate for Republican Rodney Davis of Taylorville, who did not attend the forum sponsored by a religious coalition, said he advocated "extending tax cuts for all."
And independent John Hartman said he couldn't support the tax cuts because of his concern over the federal budget deficit.
Under the rules of the debate, hosted by the Faith Coalition for the Common Good at the Union Baptist Church in east Springfield, only the candidate willing to support the group's position on issues was allowed to address the topic at any length.
"I didn't get a chance to describe the peril we are in, that all people -- low-income people, middle-income people, all Americans -- are asking for serious, much worse conditions if we do not balance our budget deficit," Hartman, an Edwardsville businessman, said after the forum. "To do that we all need to have an oar in the water; that's high-income people, medium-income people, low-income people. That's the only way we can get this thing done, if everybody believes they're all pulling. I didn't get a chance to say that."
Repeating a frequent theme of his campaign, Gill said "we need to have the millionaires and billionaires in this country pay their fair share.
"We can have a strong economy and we can have jobs when we have people in Washington, D.C., who are there to represent ordinary men and women, who don't take the funding from the Exxon-Mobils and the United Healthcares. And I don't take a penny from them."
The forum, which also included local candidates, was one of the few public events where more than one of the three 13th District congressional candidates was scheduled to appear.
Davis did not attend Tuesday's forum because he was committed to another event, said a campaign spokesman.
Gill said he believed the only time all three candidates would appear together publicly to discuss issues would be at a Nov. 1 debate at WILL-TV in Urbana.
"To my knowledge nothing else has been set," he said.
Gill said he would be willing to debate the other candidates "anywhere in the district, although televised is important, something that reaches a large audience. I think it would be nice to have thousands, tens of thousands, be able to hear and compare and contrast the candidates."
He said he was not aware of any offers from other television stations in the district, other than WILL.
Hartman said he accepted invitations "to about a half-dozen" proposed debates and forums around the 13th District but believes the only one likely to occur will be at WILL.
"I think it would be good for the public and that's my regret. I think the public would benefit from this, and we should do it for them. I hope we still can," he said.