James Scalzitti has an impressive writing resume, having been a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and the City News Bureau of Chicago. And he's worked in the Clerk's office for just over three years.
He also is award-winning.
The National Association of County Information Officers ( NACIO ) holds an annual "Awards of Excellence" contest, where honors are given in a number of categories, including press releases, reports, speeches, letters, etc. NACIO received hundreds of entries, which honors the work of county and state public information officers across the United States. Scalzitti won "Best of Class" in Writing and "Superior" in News Writing, and also awards for excellence in the News Release and Speech categories.
"I'm thrilled, yet humbled by these awards," he said. "I didn't do any of this work alone. Everyone I have worked with has had a role in each of these awards. Clerk [David] Orr gives us the leeway to pursue projects, such as the countdown to 10,000 same-sex marriage licenses and he takes time to work with us on letters, speeches, press releases, and other written matter to get the thoughts and words just right.
"My communications department colleagues helped with research, editing, creating charts, maps, graphics, videos, and social media to get the work out to the public. The clerk's office IT Department was instrumental in the 10K campaign because they created the searchable database for the countdown."
One of the awards is a plaque, which will hang at home, he said.
"I'm incredibly grateful for the honors and it's very satisfying to be rewarded by experts in my field for work I'm proud of and that I've put a lot of thought and effort into."
Scalzitti also once worked as a doorman at the Holiday Club in Uptown.
"A big part of [my clerk] job is answering media inquiries, which could be anything from election rules and results to tax rates [or] real estate matters," he said. "I do a lot of writing and research for press releases, speeches, and reports. For instance, after an election, the office produces a report that not only provides the complete results, but which digs into an analysis of those results, such as what candidates got more votes in certain geographic areas, what age group had the best or worst turnout, etc. I love digging into data such as that."
So what's the best part of your job?
"Having a front-[row] seat to history for these past few years, and being able to take part, in some small way at least, in so many great, historic moments," he said.
As of last December, Cook County had issued 10,591 same-sex marriage licenses, including 1,815 this year alone.
"Clerk Orr has said that the countdown [to 10,000 was] great, but that the real mark of progress comes [when] people stop counting, when same-sex marriages are as ingrained as heterosexual marriages, when people stop saying 'gay marriage' or 'same-sex marriage' and it's all just 'marriage,'" Scalzitti said. "I agree, and think we are well on our way there.
"There are obstacles to overcome, to be sure, and there are people who will try to chip away at marriage equality, in the same way that people have tried, sometimes successfully, to chip away at voting rights and women's reproductive rights. So we must always be vigilant in protecting these rights, but we've got a great debt to pay to those who fought for marriage equality, at the state and federal levels."
* Age: 50
* Favorite movie: Auntie Mame
* Relationship status: Married since June 2015 to actor Stephen Loch. They met 10 years ago.
* Hobbies: Collects political campaign buttons/paraphernalia and vintage baseball cards
* Neighborhood: Lake View
* Job title: Deputy communications director, Cook County Clerk's Office
* Favorite musician: Morrissey and the Pet Shop Boys