Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-03-21
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



ELECTIONS State Sen. 9th Dist. candidate and current State Rep. Laura Fine on diversity
by Angelique Smith

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

In a bid to take over state Sen. Daniel Biss' seat as he runs for governor, state Rep. Laura Fine is running for Senate for the 9th District, which includes townships such as Evanston and Northfield, and villages such as Kenilworth, Skokie and Winnetka.

A Democrat who grew up in Glenview and is currently in her third term as state rep for the 17th District, Fine is passionate and vocal about many issues, including education and the environment. She has supported continued funding for Planned Parenthood, raising the minimum wage, providing paid sick time to workers and was proud to bring her kids to the bill signing for marriage equality in Illinois.

Fine has also been openly critical of Gov. Rauner and President Trump, and this extends to the resolutions and bills she has introduced in the House, including condemning the latter's executive order barring refugees and his plans for "the wall."

Windy City Times: You've said that you're "committed to fiscal accountability [and] bringing integrity back to Springfield." How has that commitment played out while you were a state representative?

Rep. Laura Fine: Under this current governor [Rauner], it's been challenging. Since he refused to work with us on a budget for so many years, it put us in the hole with many unpaid bills, really devastating so many important functions of the state. It's almost like starting from scratch again. We have to make sure we have a balanced budget, that we are really funding the agencies that are important to us.

WCT: As a former teacher, you've mentioned that higher education is important to you. What did you accomplish on the House Higher Education Appropriations Committee?

LF: We were really moving in the right direction until we stopped funding our universities. I take that personally because higher education is so vitally important. It goes back to being fiscally responsible, so many of these universities are the economic engines in their communities. [It] not only devastates the students and the universities, but the entire surrounding communities.

WCT: Tell us about your work on legislation to stop the use of a coal tar.

LF: This has been a many year project of mine. Coal tar itself, it's carcinogenic. The studies are out there, the doctors know. Kids play in the driveways covered in coal tar and they bring the carcinogenic dust into their homes; it's on playgrounds, it's getting into our water.

WCT: Wow—I didn't know about driveways.

LF: I'm on the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus. I was at one of our meetings and Minnesota was talking about how they banned coal tar and that's when I learned more about it. Not only the health damages it causes, but the high price to the communities that have to clean it out of their waterways. I have been trying to work to ban coal tar in the state of Illinois. I kind of look at this as, "Is this the next asbestos?" Asbestos was the most wonderful thing in the world until they found out it was literally killing people. If there's a safe, healthy alternative, I don't see why we shouldn't be able to reduce the toxins to protect people and the environment.

WCT: What are your thoughts on the current political environment in this country?

LF: You've got to look at it from a negative and a positive way. The negative is I really think that under our current leadership, the little guy is getting the boot. It just seems like everything is being done, especially at the federal level, to help out that top 1 percent, to help big industry. Every time the president opens his mouth and does something about the environment, I feel like I'm being kicked in the gut. Allowing coal mines to dump into the waterways; it's devastation to our environment that we're never going to be able to fix. And here we were, I felt like, on a really good track of making improvements and trying to preserve our world for the future; and we have this administration taking us [backward]. I've been very frustrated. If you were to see some of the resolutions I've passed for the House…

WCT: Yes, I've read a lot of them.

LF: It's everything from "Stop what you're doing to immigrants," to "Let's protect Lake Michigan." At the state level, it's been, "Fund our universities and our human-service providers," because that's our job: to protect the people that are the most vulnerable. We need to be the voice of those people.

WCT: Politicians often lose sight of that.

LF: On the positive side, in this past year, I have never seen people become more involved in government. Even in my own community, you've got your core group of people who are always out there. They're going to town hall meetings and rallies and want to be informed. Now, every time we have an event, it's packed. I'm constantly speaking to different groups because people want to know and are tired of being bystanders; they want to be upstanders.

WCT: What would you recommend to have a better relationship between law enforcement and the citizens they serve, including people of color and the transgender community?

LF: There needs to be better understanding and a better relationship. We need to be accepting of everybody's differences. Just this past week, our high school put in a transgender policy, and thank goodness they finally did. This is the way our world is moving and you've got to move with [it]. It also goes back to funding. With the transgender community, make sure our homeless shelters are funded and these young kids are taken care of and they know that they are accepted in society. Once we can start having these conversations, that everybody's good for who they are, we'll start seeing those changes. Unfortunately, it's going to mean a new administration. We were on that path under Obama and now we are hitting the wall.

WCT: In looking at the demographics of the 9th District, I realize there's a difference between Wilmette and Evanston, for example. How easy would it be to foster open conversations, specifically about race when, most likely, looking around the room, diversity of race wouldn't necessarily be represented?

LF: Absolutely. How do you look at diversity, if, for example, part of my district covers Skokie and Niles North High School? Seventy-six languages are spoken in that high school. Even though you look at this and say, "white bread community," it's probably one of the most diverse communities in the area. It may not be as much black and white, but there's a ton of diversity here, and I think people don't realize that. It's not the diversity that most people are accustomed to, but every year Skokie has the Festival of Cultures in May. As part of this, all of the different cultures that are represented in Skokie march in with their flag and it's an amazing ceremony because you realize the culture that's in this community.

WCT: Hmm.

LF: Skokie did this fabulous project, Skokie Welcomes Everyone. So, you could drive around Skokie and see signs everywhere, and people blogged to say, "Skokie welcomes everyone." We've just been trying to reach out to all the different communities and make sure everybody's represented. And, you're right, you're not going to get that much diversity in like, a Kenilworth, for example.

WCT: Right. That was a good example.

LF: But, we have the diversity in other parts of the district.

WCT: Would you install a written policy in your office regarding sexual-orientation and gender-identity discrimination?

LF: Absolutely.

WCT: What would you do to ensure that your staff is diverse, whether it's in terms of sexual orientation, race or gender?

LF: My staff is my Glenview office—it's me and Shiva. It's an interesting office if you look at it because I'm Jewish and she's Muslim. But I have three people that work with me, two more women and one is a man, just because these were the people that I felt were the most qualified for the job and that I was comfortable working with. When it comes to diversity, everybody should have the same opportunities.

Visit .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Trump issues transgender military ban 2018-03-23 - President Trump issued orders March 23 to bar most transgender troops who need surgery or significant medical treatment from serving in the U.S. ...

Gay News

City, ACLU, groups enter agreement on police oversight 2018-03-22 - CHICAGO — In a major development in the fight for federal oversight of the Chicago Police Department ( CPD ), over a dozen ...

Gay News

LGBTQ Victory Fund Endorses 14 More LGBTQ Candidates Including Valdez for Texas Governor 2018-03-21 - Washington, DC — Today LGBTQ Victory Fund, the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office, endorsed 14 more candidates ...

Gay News

HRC Comments on Illinois' 3rd Congressional District Primary Result 2018-03-21 - CHICAGO — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer ( LGBTQ ) civil ...

Gay News

Title VII, Where and why "sex" matters to LGBT employees 2018-03-21 - Lori Franchina worked as a rescue worker for Providence, Rhode Island, and for four years, everything was fine. Then one day, she was ...

Gay News

In Eastern Caribbean LGBT People Face Bias, Violence Under Colonial-Era Laws 2018-03-21 - ( Bridgetown, Barbados, March 21, 2018 ) — Discriminatory laws in Eastern Caribbean countries make lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) ...

Gay News

Pritzker wins primary; Robinson makes history 2018-03-21 - J.B. Pritzker is getting what he wanted—a shot at the Republican nominee for governor in November. Meanwhile, Lamont Robinson made history as ...

Gay News

LGBTQ town-hall meeting March 28 2018-03-21 - The Association of Latino/as Motivating Action ( ALMA ) will host an LGBTQ town-hall meeting on Wed., March 28, 6-7:30 p.m., at the ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Pre-teen suicide, drag-queen situation, Truth Awards, Stormy Daniels 2018-03-20 - A 12-year-old bisexual boy in Mississippi committed suicide after allegedly being bullied for coming out, Gay Star News reported. Andrew Leach was found ...

Gay News

WORLD Councilwoman killed, gay whistleblower, medicinal vending machine 2018-03-20 - Rio de Janeiro Councilwoman Marielle Franco was killed March 14 after attending and speaking at a Black women's empowerment event in the city, ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.