By Charlsie Dewey
Bob Fioretti has spent his career as a civil rights lawyer fighting to ensure people are treated equally and without prejudice. He has also lived his life not just talking the talk but walking the walk when it comes to helping out in his community. Now, he wants to represent the 2nd Ward and take on City Hall full-time.
Windy City Times: Please discuss your career and community service background.
Bob Fioretti: Thirty-five years of community service. I was elected student body president at the University of Illinois, where we, the student government, decided that the students should have a voice on the board of trustees. That's [just] the beginning: I raised 15 million dollars for the Historic Pullman Foundation when I was president. I created 500 scholarships for students to go to Northern Illinois University when I was the president of the NIU Alumni Association. I've been appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve on the court's Character and Fitness Committee, where I sit in and assess an applicant who has taken the bar or will be taking the bar on whether or not they have the requisite character fitness to become a lawyer in this state. At the same time, I sit on the [Chicago Bar Association Executive Committee of the Judicial Evaluation Committee], where I question people on whether or not they have the requisite ability to become judges.
[There have also been] years of fundraising activities for hospitals; we had an entity during the '90s called Harbor Homes, where we would bring around meals to those who were dying of AIDS. I raised a lot of money for St. Mary's of Nazareth Hospital. I chaired their most successful fundraising dinner they ever had four years ago.
WCT: Why did you decide to run for alderman?
BF: I've gone door to door for the last several months…and the first question I ask is, 'When was the last time you saw your alderman?' Inevitably, the response is 'never' or 'I don't know who he is.' It is time that the people of this ward have a voice. As a civil rights lawyer, I've always fought to give people a voice, to be treated equally without prejudice, and I believe the people of this ward deserve a voice. That is why I'm running.
WCT: What are the main issues in the 2nd Ward?
BF: In no specific order, [they are] education, crime, taxes and development. [Regarding] education, we have 17 public schools here in this ward; we have 2,373 businesses. I plan on developing a true partnership between the corporations and our schools. If I could find ten businesses for each school, 170 businesses that would help them out. We have schools that have 10-year-old textbooks. It's unacceptable to me that we send our children to seek a public education, which I believe is a moral right, and yet we are using books that are 10 years old. At the same time, we have thousands of students [who] live here. I want to see if we can develop mentoring programs with our students from the colleges. … I will be an advocate for putting money back into the schools.
WCT: Please discuss the issue of crime.
BF: Crime is a significant problem throughout this ward. I could show you six or seven crack houses that exist in this ward that nobody's taking any action toward. I want to put a well-trained, diversified police force on the streets. I want to ban assault weapons. I want to put more money into the Cease Fire Anti-Violence Program, and I think we can do better in that area too.
WCT: How did you make the decision not to accept money from developers?
BF: I've represented people and I believe that if a project is good for the neighborhood [and] the community, there's no need to give an alderman a campaign contribution. I think it's a significant step. It's the first way to clean up this city.
WCT: Have you come across any LGBT-specific issues in your ward that need to be addressed in the next couple of months?
BF: The answer is yes. First of all, I've been asked where I stand on gay rights Well, why should it even be an issue? As a civil rights attorney, I fought for people to be treated equally. I am a full proponent of health insurance and life insurance and partner benefits. I've been a catalyst for change in a lot of different areas.
I have been asked questions about what we need to do [concerning] AIDS and how to handle the struggle that we are facing. I am fully in favor of more funding, prevention funding and, especially, crystal meth prevention.
WCT: Can the LGBT community count on you to be a voice and representative of their issues and their concerns?
BF: Yes, they can. I will advance the rights of the community.
WCT: Why do you think you are a better candidate then the incumbent and the other candidates?
BF: Quite frankly, it's experience and knowledge. I've dealt with virtually every type of problem that exists in this ward. I have traveled this ward and I travel it three or four times a week. I go through the streets. I go through the alleys. I know where the drug houses that have to be closed down are, the liquor stores that must be closed down in this ward. People come up to me now and need help and I'm trying to assist them...we're here to make a difference…A lot of the other candidates don't have a track record or any history of making a difference.