Franklin Ramirez, who is openly bisexual, is running for office to better call attention to the role of the Elgin Township government.
In Elgin, "The township government flies under the radar," said Ramirez, who wants to be elected township supervisor this spring. "The current supervisor [Annette Miller] is a Republican who has been in office for 12 years and has worked for the township for 30. No one knows who she isand that's not meant as a diss to her personally; that's meant as a diss to township government in terms of transparency and outreach to citizens. It's just lackluster."
Elgin Township has three major roles: assessing property values, maintaining unincorporated roads, and providing general assistance to the poor. The supervisor functions as the township's CEO, administering finances as well as area programs.
Ramirez recently left a job with Jewel/Osco to go to work for Open Door Health in Elgin, where he is a community engagement coordinator. He's been interested in politics since he was a teenager, and this is not Ramirez's first run for office.
"I ran for alderman in Park Ridge six years ago," he recalled. "'Ramirez vs. [Ald. Marty] Maloney' is an uphill battle. But I got 32 percent of the vote. I knocked on doors, called on the houses and made my case for building a better community. That is honestly the tenet that I keep inside, that we need to move forward."
He moved to Elgin about 4 years ago. He grew fond of the city when he was a campaign manager for former state Rep. Ruth Munson, a local Republican. Ramirez left the Republicans because of their stances on LGBT issues, he added. "I said, I can't be with you if you can't support minorities or LGBT individuals. Those that know me understand that. I'm pretty moderate."
Elgin is "a community that gets to know its neighbors," Ramirez said. "They're actively involved in local government. You have organizations that fight for their voice to be heard. … When you go to a city council meeting, it's packed all the time."
But the township government doesn't inspire that same passion, according to Ramirez. "It's unincorporated areas that get a lot of handholding," he noted. "In Elgin Township, you're talking about the west side. [Residents] haven't gotten a newsletter in 16 years. They're very proud of their prescription-drug program. …It increased from 10 people to 14 people. There's almost 120,000 people in Elgin alone, and you only help 14 individuals when it comes to prescription-drugs?"
He added, "People don't look at township government, and why should they? I only pay $50 towards it on my taxes. I want to introduce the community to township government again. … I want to bring transparency to it. They don't even record their meetings. If you need to know what happens with the township, you need to go to the township."
Ramirez said that he's been comfortable being out about being bisexual in Elgin. There's not much LGBT nightlife, he added, "But we just live our lives as ordinary people. …I have no problem, because that's who I am."
He nevertheless emphasized that he should not be considered a one-issue candidate. "I'm not solely fighting for LGBT rights in Elgin Township. That may be part of my experiences and toolsand that is definitely a community that is herebut my general focus is to advance the welfare of my neighbors for tomorrow."