Insurance agent Lamont Robinson Jr.who runs two Allstate officesis currently a candidate for state representative in the 5th District, a seat vacated by Juliana Stratton as she campaigns for lieutenant governor.
If elected, Robinson would be the first openly gay African-American legislator in state history, and he was previously interviewed by the Windy City Times when he announced his campaign in October. His opponents in the Democratic Primary are Felicia Bullock, Kenneth Dunkin, Tregg Duerson, Dilara Sayeed and Johnae Strong; none of them returned Windy City Times' request for an interview.
Windy City Times: What would be your first priority once you got to Springfield?
Lamont Robinson: The first priority is to bring economic development into the 5th District, which will also bring jobs, and also lessen the violence that we're seeing on the south end of the district.
WCT: Having gotten to talk to potential constituents, what other issues have arisen?
LR: Jobs, certainly, which also equate to economic development, and so I'm really tying the three things together. Economic development was extremely important to me, but as I am out and about, jobs and the violence that we're seeing again on the south end of the district keep continuing to come up. But I think we need to look at through an out of the box approach, which is again for me going to be through economic development.
WCT: Public safety seems to be a big issue for you and your constituents. What approaches besides economic development would you be interested in considering?
LR: Something that has come up while I've been out in the community door-knocking and meeting with residents is getting back to community policing, where we have officers that know the residents in the area, that have stakes in the community, that might even live in the community. I believe that one of the ways that we get through this hump where we don't trust our police officers is that we don't have a relationship with them. We don't know who they are.
WCT: How do you feel about initiatives like restorative justice and their connection to public safety?
LR: I think that's huge. Juliana Stratton, who was the current state representative, had put some bills out there on restorative justice, and that was a very key platform for her campaign. I definitely want to work with Juliana and make sure that we continue to move those reforms forward, whether that be in the district, or across the state of Illinois.
WCT: You had mentioned in your previous interview that you wanted to give employment opportunities to the trans community. How would you approach eliminating employment discrimination for those groups?
LR: I've already done it. I have two insurance practices, and in one of my practices I have hired a trans employee. That person is a manager, so it's one thing to hire someone, but to give them a management role; she can support her family and advance her career, and I hope one day she'll follow my footsteps and run her own insurance agency.
WCT: To approach that statewide?
LR: I'd talk about it. I'd be the example. When I'm going out trying to bring businesses to the district, I let people know what I have done, and how important it is to have a diverse workforce.
WCT: What specific priorities would you have as a state legislator to help the LGBT community?
LR: It's really disheartening that folks in my community have to travel north for services, whether that be HIV services, wraparound services, shelter or counseling service. My plan of attack is to work with current partners to be able to have something that is on the south end of the district.
WCT: Who would you reach out to attempting to get those services?
LR: Howard Brown [Health], the AIDS foundation, the City of Chicago. I'm very happy to report that Ald. Pat Dowell is supportive of my candidacy and she is the chair of [the Committee on Human Relations] in the city of Chicago, and I'll work with her and other organizations to be able to bring something like that to the south end of the district.
WCT: Since HIV/AIDS does often disproportionately affect racial minorities, what sort of effort do you think is needed to tackle that issue?
LR: I think that we need education across the board, whether that be in our schools, in our churches and our community organizations.
WCT: How would you approach working with colleagues in Springfield?
LR: I understand that I'm coming in as a junior legislator, but I'm not new to the current legislators in the house or the Senate. I plan to work with them on bills that are already trying to get approved or things that are already going in the legislature. I want to continue to move the 5th district forward, whether that be working with the current state rep or state senators, or the Aldermen or the Cook County commissioners that make up the district.
WCT: What sets you apart from the other candidates in the race?
LR: I've invested in the community over the years. I'm a small business owner, someone that has brought jobs to the community, someone that has worked with the current alderman in the area. I also am an educator, a professor at Harold Washington College which is in the district, and I also run a nonprofit for African-American boys preparing to go to college. All of these things are skillsets that I will take with me to Springfield that my other opponents do not have.
See www.votelamontrobinson.com/ .
Related www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/ELECTIONS-2018-Lamont-Robinson-launches-run-for-state-House-seat/60600.html .