It was standing-room only at Thursday night’s 5th Congressional District forum, where Democrat Dee Thornton and incumbent Republican Susan Brooks answered questions from voters.
The event, at Shamrock Springs Elementary in Westfield, was hosted by The League of Women Voters of Hamilton County.
Both candidates talked about a variety of topics including government transparency, climate change, gun violence and the current political climate.
In response to a question about negative political rhetoric, Brooks says civility is crucial, and focused on bipartisan efforts in her political career.
“It’s something I’ve done from the time I got there that I said would do. But I haven’t just said it, we’re doing it. Day-in and day-out, finding ways to reach across the aisle,” Brooks said.
Thornton countered with a point she used throughout the night – the connection between Brooks and the current administration.
“She has voted with President Trump 99 percent of the time," Thornton said. "That’s not working across the aisle.”
Healthcare was another prominent topic. Thornton, who supports a gradual shift to Medicare for All, criticized Brooks for voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Brooks says Medicare for All would push the country further into debt and cause taxes to skyrocket. She says positive elements of the law could be saved during a repeal, and argues that injecting competition into the market would make options more affordable.
On the topic of wage inequality and the working poor, Thornton says the GOP’s tax bill functioned as a mass redistribution of wealth to the top one percent of Americans, not the middle-class boost that was promised.
Brooks says the bill increased wages for the middle-class, and says more funding should go towards vocational programs to help with a growing skill gap in some industries.
On immigration, Brooks says progress stalled because too many things are put into individual bills, making bipartisan support unreasonably difficult. She says there is agreement on specific aspects of immigration, like increased support for DACA recipients.
Thornton says she does not support a border wall, but does support improving security at the border. She says better use of current resources like security drones and the National Guard could be sufficient.
You can listen to WFYI's interviews with each candidate right here.