The seven candidates who attended a Monday night forum on issues important to the Hispanic community may have generated applause, but not everyone in the audience was impressed.
Yvonne Bolton, vice chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Will County, said she thought many of the answers given during the event at Joliet's Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church were not genuine.
For example, state Rep. Larry Walsh, a Democrat who's hoping to keep the 86th District House seat to which he was appointed, told the crowd that he supported undocumented immigrants obtaining driver's licenses and would like to see it be the first step toward citizenship.
"He's saying exactly what they want to hear, and that's why they are applauding," Bolton said.
Bolton said she thought Dave Carlson, the Republican challenging incumbent Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow, provided the best answers because they seemed genuinely honest.
Charlotte Droogan, a volunteer with Warehouse Workers for Justice and South West Suburban Immigrant Project, thought the candidates were not forthcoming in their opinions on whether warehouse employers should be forced to pay an hourly wage high enough for people to support themselves. Many of those workers are Hispanic.
Glasgow and Carlson both said they could relate to the workers' situation in that they both had similar blue-collar jobs when they were young, but neither committed to helping the employees in their fight.
"The politicians were acting like politicians," Droogan said.
Regardless of what side audience members found themselves falling on, many were like Luzmila Gutierrez -- grateful to have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers.
"For her it was a new experience; a very beautiful, new experience," said her son Pedro Gurierrez Jr., who served as his mother's interpreter.
Before the politicians spoke Monday, audience members spoke publicly about the four issues the candidates were to address.
Gutierrez Jr., a first-generation Mexican-American who attends Joliet Junior College, spoke about the challenges of seeking higher education. It's easy to get intimidated by the process of getting into college, especially the question of how to for it, he said.
At the end of the forum, moderator Alicia Morales summed up why the event was importatn.
"Latinos do vote," she said. "We are here because we need to make sure the people we choose ... are standing up for the issues we care about," she said. "By being here, you're showing the candidates that they need to pay attention to our community."