There are any number of things that make Diane Shapiro unique in a crowded field of candidates running for alderman in Chicago's 46th Ward. For one, Shapiro, now retired, has worked for Cook County for more than 30 years, including positions with the sheriff's office and, most recently, the adult probation separtment. She's also not new to running for public office in Chicagoin 2008, she challenged Dorothy Brown in her ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk seat. Shapiro also teaches a public speaking course at Triton College and worked as a circus producer for some 15 years.
But the most prominent of Shapiro's distinctions would have to be the "R" she wishes could have been listed after her name on the ballot. Endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans and the Chicago GOP, Shapiro spoke with Windy City Times about why she hopes LGBT voters in the ward will veer to the right when they vote Feb. 22.
Windy City Times: Your background is a bit different than the other candidatesspecifically, it's more Republican. Are you concerned that may turn off LGBT voters?
Diane Shapiro: I would say not at all, because I am fiscally Republican, but on social issues, I'm generally a moderate and I really resent the fact that any political party would use the issue of a woman's right to choose as a political red herring and that's what the Democrats are doing.
We need a lot more fiscal responsibility in this state ... and, as a Republican, I believe in fewer laws. I'm tired of these red-light cameras going up on street corners [in the ward] like mushrooms after the rain without the consent of the government. Only in a dictatorship could we have had the parking meter deal made, the Skyway lease andI'm trying to find a nice word for what they did to Soldier Field. It was a slap in the face to any veteran, ruined its landmark status and made it look like a toilet bowl or a spaceship landing.
WCT: You seem very disenchanted with the status quo of Chicago politics. Would you have still run if Shiller had run for re-election?
Diane Shapiro: Absolutely, absolutely. I'm disappointed they turned this into a non-partisan election because it's a sad fact that we have let one party rule for far too long and assume the position of a dictatorship. We have a dictator: Mayor Daley. He is an emperor. He's Nero fiddling while Rome burns. And he has the alderman marching in lockstep with him because, "Oh my God, are they not going to pick up my garbage?" The city of Chicago needs a weak mayor and strong aldermen25 aldermen, not 50.
I wanted to run as Republican. Trust me, I used to be a Democrat and I helped get all of these people elected. I turned around one day, looked myself in the mirror and said, "What the hell are you doing?" We're electing kleptocrats, which is the only way to describe these people. They're not interested in democracyit's kleptocracy. They call themselves Democrats, use the right words and terminology to appeal to the '60s radicals and the Commies and that, they pander to them and then turn right around and stab all these people in the back ... We can't stand politics anymore ... Gay rights are human rights protected by the Constitution.
WCT: Your plan for the ward includes "beautifying" the ward, filling vacated storefronts and improving safety. How do you intend to improve the neighborhood while also protecting its diversity?
Diane Shapiro: There's no reason why somebody who's poor needs to live in dirt. We need to have a budget in place with fiscally responsible spending, have one office meeting all the bureaucratic needs here in the ward to help entrepreneurs come in. We can hire a lot of new police officers if we cut back on expenses in other areas.
The storefronts are empty because people can't afford the taxes. The storefronts are empty because law enforcement is not being rewarded for keeping the streets clean. We had an absentee landlord named Helen Shiller for too many years and there's no reason on Earth why we can't have a multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-income group of people living together.
There are so many things that have been done in this city for the financial gain of only a few. We have plenty of money of clean up Uptown ... We need to encourage people to come here, not discourage them, and they're looking at the increase in income tax and we're making it almost impossible for someone to come here. We're getting screwed left, right and center, even with the ownership of a weapon. Criminals have always been able to get guns in Chicago even though it's against the law because, duh, they're criminals. Lawful, law-abiding citizens should be able to own a gun for their own protection.
It's just sickening how our rights have been taken away ... Everywhere you turn there's another tax, another tax, another tax ... And we keep voting [the Democrats] into office because we're uninformed. I hate to break it to you: The Democratic Party has been co-opted by Communists, Maoists, Socialists and Czarists.
WCT: Why would you like to have the support of the city's LGBT community? What would that mean to you?
Diane Shapiro: I want my candidacy to inspire other people to achieve greatness. We need an advocate in City Hall who isn't necessarily straight to advocate on the rights of the individual. We need someone who is strong enough and articulate enough to stand up against what may be another autocratic regime ... and just because someone is gay doesn't make them a better advocate for the gay community any more than someone who is straight is an advocate for the straight community.
[Our ward has] a population that ranges from the poorest of the poor and the mentally ill to the wealthy and we need an advocate to represent all of them effectively and honorably. I will be active in every community and work for every community. I believe that based on my history, my experience and my proven track record of honesty, reliability and responsibility that I am the most credible candidate.
Visit www.shapiro4alderman.com for more information on Shapiro's campaign.