Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-12-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor


  WINDY CITY TIMES

Joe Laiacona takes on Deb Mell
Extended for the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis
2009-10-21

This article shared 8341 times since Wed Oct 21, 2009
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Joe Laiacona is taking on incumbent state Rep. Deb Mell in what is shaping up to a very intriguing race in the state's 40th District. Does Laiacona realize the magnitude of the task before him? Absolutely. Is he intimidated? Hardly.

In a talk with Windy City Times, the openly gay Laiacona—who teaches at Columbia College and is an amateur genealogist—discussed his platform, Mell's interview with this publication and his reason for not being more "out" on his campaign Web site.

Windy City Times: How's the campaign going?

Joe Laiacona: It's going very well. I see myself as the David in this situation; I'm hoping I have the slingshot [ to take on Goliath ] . But it's going well in my district.

For the past weeks, I've been collecting signatures—and I've gotten a surprising and good reaction from [ the constituents ] .

WCT: I saw the exchange on your Web site where you mentioned to a constituent who your opponent was and the person responded, "Why didn't you say so?"

JOE LAIACONA: That happened a lot; I didn't make it up. I don't believe in negative campaigning. I just said I was running. However, most people signed up because they believe in easy ballot access; they really want to have a choice.

WCT: So why are you the better candidate?

JOE LAIACONA: I have 62 years of experience in living, I'm better educated ( if that makes a difference to you or anyone else ) , I solidly represent the middle-class people in my district—and I'm better able to speak on their behalf.

WCT: So you don't think Deb Mell can solidly represent the middle class?

JOE LAIACONA: Well, she's the daughter of a millionaire.

WCT: But in her interview with us, she said that she makes an effort to constantly interact with constituents in the district, which is primarily blue-collar and working-class, correct?

JOE LAIACONA: It is, but I think I can do a better job. Also, I have a solid union background; I'm a homeowner with the same homeowner problems everyone else has; I'm intimately connected with the education system as an instructor at Columbia College; I don't have any health insurance, which allows me to speak to the needs of the common man—and I have no problem reading a 50-page report [ referring to Mell's interview that was published in WCT's Sept. 30 issue, in which she said that she does not have the "time and staff" to read large reports ] . You know how big our budget? It's about 700 pages.

WCT: What are your comments about Deb Mell's interview? You've made some references to it.

JOE LAIACONA: Well, you've heard one. Second, you might want to talk to Mr. Joravsky about Deb Mell. [ Laiacona hands the interviewer a copy of a Jan. 24, 2008, Chicago Reader article written by Ben Joravsky entitled "Mell Family Politics: Richard Mell strikes a deal to push his daughter Deborah into the statehouse—and indepedent-leaning Iris Martinez out." ] It's a different side of the story than what Ms. Mell gave. And, thirdly, one of the things I've learned is that a lot of people have [ Deb Mell predecessor ] Richard Bradley's name on their front windows. As far as I can see, he was very popular—and some of the people signed my petition because they miss Richard Bradley. As a matter of fact, while I was deciding to run, I talked with Richard to make sure he wasn't running.

WCT: So if he ran, you wouldn't be in this race?

JOE LAIACONA: That's for sure. The voters in my district thought he did a good job. Quite frankly, the primary reason I'm running is that, when I investigated if I should run, I found that there was a great deal of dissatisfaction and anger that I shared with the people in the neighborhood about politics in Chicago and Illinois. People are fed up with the status quo—the nepotism, the payola, the back-room deals, the closed-door caucuses, the lack of information.

WCT: Deb Mell talked about her vote for [ not impeaching her brother-in-law ] former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Is that a sticking point with you?

JOE LAIACONA: Yes. I think she represented her family, not her constituents. I don't think she had to vote "yes." I think she should've voted "present."

I was in that same situation myself. ( This is going back about 30 years. ) There was some turmoil in a company I worked for, and my sister-in-law was one of the employees under me. My supervisor called me and asked me to fire her. I said, "Dennis, I can't fire my sister-in-law," and he said, "That's OK. I'll do it for you." Voting "present" would have been another way [ for Mell ] .

WCT: An issue that's mentioned on your Web site is "transparency." You've talked a little about it; why is that so important?

JOE LAIACONA: Because state representatives and other elected officials are employees. That's what they are—they're public servants. The persons who are trustees of the political corporation are voters, and voters need to have all the information so they can [ make the best informed decision ] for the state. Without all the information, they can't vote intelligently and wisely—and we need transparency so they'll know how to vote.

WCT: Can there be too much transparency?

JOE LAIACONA: Well, not everything needs to be on public record. In fact, I believe in a strong right to privacy. But I'm talking about transparency in public action; I don't want the government in my bedroom. I don't need to know how much is in my next door neighbor's bank account, but I might need to know who's funding my legislator.

What the caucus and committee systems have done is given cover to legislators to not vote on something. I tried doing a search on legislative rules and ethics and, one after another, these rules died in committee. That means I don't know what anyone thought of that law—or if I should vote for that person the next time around.

WCT: Something I didn't see on your Web site was anything on LGBT rights. Did I overlook that?

JOE LAIACONA: No.

WCT: Why is that the case? You have worked for a gay publication [ as columnist "Jack Rinella" for Gay Chicago magazine ] .

JOE LAIACONA: First of all, it's not an issue in my neighborhood...

WCT: How do you know that?

JOE LAIACONA: I've talked with my constituents. But I think they should be called "human rights." Specifically, I address marriage rights in my platform.

WCT: But there are other issues that are of concern to the LGBT community.

JOE LAIACONA: Yes—but I want equality, irrespective of race, creed, sexual orientation, gender, age.

WCT: Why, in your biography, is your partner not mentioned?

JOE LAIACONA: [ Pauses. ] Because he's not.

WCT: Did he not want it mentioned?

JOE LAIACONA: No—we've never discussed it. As a matter of fact, I don't think my sexual orientation should be an issue. But I gave a speech at the North Side Democracy for America [ the other ] night, and my lover, Patrick Herlihy, was there with me.

Actually, [ someone ] asked me, "You know you're running against a lesbian. What is the gay community going to think about that?" I said, "Well, I'm not sure, but I'm gay and I worked for Gay Chicago magazine for 17 years." He said, "Oh." I'm not going back into the closet but I'm not making an issue out of it.

WCT: But do you understand why it might appear to some people that you're whitewashing [ your gay identity ] ?

JOE LAIACONA: I do understand.

WCT: Are you having an LGBT fundraiser?

JOE LAIACONA: If somebody's [ hosting ] it, I certainly would.

WCT: What's your biggest obstacle?

JOE LAIACONA: Money.

WCT: So you'd be willing to engage Deb Mell in a debate?

JOE LAIACONA: I look forward to it. [ Smiles ]

WCT: Has she made any overtures to you?

JOE LAIACONA: No.

WCT: Have you made any to her?

JOE LAIACONA: I expect community organizations in our district to make overtures to both of us.

See www.friendsforjoelaiacona.org . Also, Laiacona is holding a reception Thursday, Oct. 22, at Trattoria Caterina, 616 S. Dearborn, 5-7 p.m.; RSVP at the Web site.


This article shared 8341 times since Wed Oct 21, 2009
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Cook County gets $500K from MacArthur Foundation to increase racial equality in justice system 2022-01-24
-- From a press release - [Chicago, Jan. 24, 2022] — Last week, Cook County was announced as the recipient of a $500,000 grant by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to build upon existing efforts to address racial and ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Trans deaths, N.J. official, political items, 'Queer Eye' 2022-01-23
- The murders of two Black transgender women in the early days of the new year struck an ominous tone in the wake of two of the deadliest years on record for transgender Americans, Gay City News ...


Gay News

Chile president-elect names LGBTQ+ people to his Cabinet 2022-01-22
- Chilean President-elect Gabriel Boric—who won a runoff election on Dec. 21, 2021—named two openly LGBTQ+ people to his Cabinet on Jan. 21, the Los Angeles Blade reported. Marco Antonio Avila, a gay man, will be the ...


Gay News

Lambda Legal issues assessment of Biden-Harris administration's work for LGBTQ+, HIV communities 2022-01-22
-- From a press release - Washington, D.C. — Lambda Legal released a new comprehensive report that assesses the Biden-Harris administration's first year with respect to its impact on the LGBTQ+ community and everyone living with HIV. While the report identifies significan ...


Gay News

Planned Parenthood Illinois Action launches virtual Black Community Town Hall Series in February 2022-01-20
-- From a press release - CHICAGO - Planned Parenthood Illinois Action (PPIA) proudly announces a new Black Community Town Hall series in honor of Black History Month. The series of virtual discussions will tackle topics such as community wellness and care, ...


Gay News

Failure to enact Freedom to Vote is a blow to vulnerable groups 2022-01-20
-- From a press release - From Kierra Johnson, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund: "The failure to enact the Freedom to Vote, John R. Lewis Act is a profound blow to our Democracy. The inability to ensure ...


Gay News

'Jane's Army' to recruit, deploy pro-choice volunteers 2022-01-20
-- From a press release - Chicago, IL — Personal PAC, Men4Choice, and Future Voices Council have launched Jane's Army — a joint campaign to recruit activist volunteers to educate, motivate, and activate pro-choice voters ahead of the critical 2022 election. This ...


Gay News

Sinema under fire from LGBTQ+ groups for voting-rights stance 2022-01-20
- Some LGBTQ+-rights organizations have criticized U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona)—a member of the community—after her stance on voting rights. Sinema and fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, have ...


Gay News

Human Rights Campaign Foundation releases new data on the LGBTQ+ wage gap 2022-01-19
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, released ...


Gay News

Human Rights Campaign celebrates advances in LGBTQ+ policies one year into Biden-Harris administration 2022-01-19
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON, DC — One day before the one year anniversary of the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) celebrates the advances that have been made in LGBTQ+ ...


Gay News

LGBTQ+-rights activist Jim Obergefell announces political run 2022-01-18
- Jim Obergefell—the LGBTQ+-rights activist and named plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide—announced Jan. 18 that he is launching a bid for the Ohio state House, CNN.com reported. "I took a history-ma ...


Gay News

Chief Judge Evans responds to Mayor Lightfoot's request on electronic monitoring 2022-01-18
-- Press release from Office of the Chief Judge Cook County Circuit Court - Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans responded Jan. 19 to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's request for a moratorium on use of electronic monitoring for defendants accused of certain violent crimes by pointing out the national and state ...


Gay News

Two join races for state office, Personal PAC comments on threats to reproductive rights 2022-01-18
-- From a Personal PAC press release - Chicago, IL — Today, following the news that anti-choice extremists Richard Irvin and Avery Bourne would run as Republicans for governor and Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, Personal PAC President and CEO Terry Cosgrove released the following ...


Gay News

COVID Mayor Lightfoot ends isolation 2022-01-18
- Five days after testing positive for COVID-19, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she is out of isolation, per CBS Chicago. "Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me and sent their well wishes. I am ...


Gay News

Aurora mayor joins crowded GOP field in race for governor 2022-01-18
- Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin announced his candidacy for governor of Illinois on Jan. 17, joining a slew of Republicans hoping to challenge Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker in November, NBC Chicago reported. Irvin, a Black Republican and ...


 



Copyright © 2022 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.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.