Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



ELECTIONS 2020 ILLINOIS STATE REP Garfield on reform, term limits, LGBT issues
by Matt Simonette

This article shared 1805 times since Sun Mar 1, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Chicago attorney James Garfield is one of four openly gay men taking part in the election to win the 12th District's state House representative seat—a position long held by state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz and for the moment is occupied by state Rep. Yoni Pizer, one of Garfield's opponents.

Garfield has centered state government reform as a key part of his platform. He has been very vocal in his opposition to Machine politics at the state level, and asserts that he won't be afraid to make decisions that could ordinarily cost an Illinois politician their career.

Windy City Times: Why did you become interested in running?

James Garfield: I've long been active in politics, but I've kept wanting to find more ways to be engaged and be involved, because I've gotten more and more frustrated in the direction that Springfield is going, especially in terms of corruption and ethics. We finally have a Democratic governor and a Democratic legislature but we still can't have progressive reforms make their way through. When you ask why, the answer is that it's because money changed hands, lobbyists didn't want it to happen, Mike Madigan didn't rubber stamp it with his seal of approval. It's got to stop. I thought: "It's a short race and a hard fight, but it's worth it if we can make these changes happen and get this progress through."

WCT: Along those lines, your website said Springfield culture blocks reform. More specifically, how so and when?

JG: The Clean Energy Jobs Act—there's been discussions and rumors. It's for a healthy environment and provide new job—why is it a partisan issue? Why is it so hard to get through? It's because lobbyists from ComEd and coal and oil want to break it up. So instead of having one bill they have 15 little bills here and there that they can attach riders to and sneak things in. It's just sickening. We're watching the lakefront dissolve in front of us, and erode out from under our houses. We've got to get under environmental reforms now.

WCT: Speak about some specific reforms you'd like to see put into place.

JG: Certainly campaign finance. I think various election reforms, like automatic voter registration, which was passed then Rauner vetoed. Now it's gone through and the secretary of state is behind in getting it implemented. It's nonsense—we live in the 21st century, and we shouldn't have [those problems in implementation].

The legislative inspector general is supposed to be an independent position because they investigate legislators and hold them accountable. Except they answer to a panel of those legislators, to be told whether they are allowed to go forward or not with subpoenas or an investigation. So if you're a friend of someone on the panel…guess what? Your abuses aren't going to get reported.

WCT: Are you a believer in term limits?

JG: I don't like term limits. I don't think they're very democratic and I don't want to put myself out of a job. That said, Illinois has a ridiculously bad history at protecting incumbents, with gerrymandering, having such an early primary with all kinds of Machine politics to push people out. We have such a bad history of that, it becomes incumbent upon us, at least for a while, to force turnover in the system. So we don't have people for 30 or 40 years, forming a kind of aristocracy.

WCT: Were you to win, how would you see your term in continuity with Feigenholtz's?

JG: In terms of policy, we're pretty much on the same page. Between Sara, myself and many of the people in the race, we share a lot of the same policy [beliefs]—environmental reforms, family protects, all kinds of healthcare issues. But the difference is that I'm "the nobody that nobody sent," and I'm fine with that. I'm happy to push programs that would stunt my own longevity and would prevent me from becoming more powerful. It's not about me, it's about the system. It's about the health of the Illinois government.

WCT: Beyond these reform issues, what are issues within the district that residents have told you they're concerned with and that you'd work on?

JG: Probably the number one problem that I've heard is property taxes. They're not wrong—property taxes are huge. I just got men, and it's hefty. The thing is, simply saying, "I'm going to lower your property taxes" is disingenuous. No one policy and no one program stands alone. You want to fix property taxes? Great. Why are property taxes so high? To fund the schools? Why are they so high to fund the schools? Because the state isn't meeting its share of the burden, so local governments have to fund the schools.

So if we can pass the progressive income tax, get in our financial house in order at the state level, and fund our schools the way we're supposed to—that means the property taxes can stop increasing and then get some relief. It's not just the money issue, it's that the you have those property taxes going up, rents go up. That doesn't mean that people get raises, just that rents go up and then they have to eave our communities.

WCT: What do you think are the most pressing issues for LGBT residents of the 12th District?

JG: This brings in a somewhat national issue, with Donald Trump stoking homophobia, white nationalism and xenophobia. We have seen the attacks against LGBT people go up. We've seen less tolerance. We've seen more folks, especially trans women of color, being murdered just for being trans women of color. The petty harassment has been there a long time. Now it's, "It's okay to murder someone because they're different"—that's what can we have to fight back against.

WCT: Where does a state rep fit in there?

JG: Some of it comes from really listening to where the violence comes from. Does it come from local chapters of hate groups? We can coordinate with local police to keep an eye on people. Is it from education and schools? Let's make sure that children are taught tolerance and acceptance early on, so that it doesn't become a big deal later in life. Coordination with local officials is important—state reps don't have any direct control of police aldermen do. So work with aldermen to make sure that they can keep patrols higher in areas where those attacks happen.

WCT: In Lake View, there are sometimes problems when LGBT young folks go there to party, and—often on summer nights—tensions arise between them and residents or business owners. This would be in your district, so how could you address that at the state rep's level?

JG: That would be tricky for a state rep. There is far less in terms of authority we would have to control something like that. Lord knows, we don't want rules like, "no alcohol after a certain time" because we're regulating businesses more, and we don't want to do that.

…Not to discourage people from coming in here and spending money, but if this was not the only major hub, the only "safe" place that LGBT youth could go, it would be good. My boyfriend comes in from the suburbs. He and his friends come in to go to Boystown, because there's nothing like that out there. If there were more spaces like that, throughout the city and further west, that might calm down the situation. I don't know if it would, but it might.

WCT: Have you done any activism work, beyond your campaign work, that you want to mention?

JG: It wasn't specifically for the LGBT community, but I do a lot of work with youth. I have participated in the Lawyers in the Classroom program, where you go in and teach fifth and sixth graders how to think like a lawyer. I'll be honest, they shock the hell out of me sometimes. We did the Three Little Pigs as a case, and they came up with ideas that none of the lawyers in the room have thought of. I'm also an alum and still work with Mikva Challenge; I'm very proud of that work.

WCT: What's been the biggest challenge in the race?

JG: Money. On one side, you had a candidate who raised a quarter-million dollars for Lori Lightfoot, and hundreds of thousands for other candidates, and miraculously they endorsed him. Another candidate loaned herself fifty thousand dollars up front—that's five times what I've got in my bank account at any given time—and has pulled in lobbyists left and right, dumping money in there.

I know that I have the right message and the right ideas. But the people I'm calling are ones where I ask, "Hey man, can I have a hundred bucks?" I've had someone answer, "If I do that, I won't have groceries next week." I said, "Don't give it to me." The fact that money have been so pervasive and overwhelming, and that this has now become a proxy-war between the mayor [who endorsed Pizer] and the governor [who endorsed opponent Margaret Croke] means that people are losing sight of things besides the money. That's one reason we need campaign finance reform—the money drowns out the voices.

See .

This article shared 1805 times since Sun Mar 1, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

HRC president calls on business community to reject coordinated, extremist anti-LGBTQ+ attacks 2023-05-31
--From a press release - WASHINGTON - Earlier today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy organization, in partnership with over 100 LGBTQ+ and allied organizations, renewed its call for Target and the business community t ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Google Doodle, drag laureate, Nebraska bill, NYC AIDS Walk 2023-05-26
- D.C. poet/activist/journalist Ivy Young passed away at age 75, per a press release. Among other things, Young worked at Chicago's VISTA; the Center for Black Education and Drum and Spear Book Store in D.C.; the ...

Gay News

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy denounces violent acts stemming from political speech 2023-05-26
--From a press release - SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, along with members of the House Dobbs Working Group responded to increasing acts of violence and threats stemming from political attacks on reproductive rights and the LGBTQ community ...

Gay News

Illinois Healthcare Cultural Competency Coalition applauds passage of HB 2450 2023-05-25
--From a press release - The Illinois Healthcare Cultural Competency Coalition applauds passage by the Illinois General Assembly of legislation that will ensure cultural competency is part of continuing medical education for a range of healthcare providers in Illinois. "We are ...

Gay News

Board of Commissioners unanimously passes Bodily Autonomy Ordinance Amendment with support of Equality Illinois, ACLU Illinois 2023-05-25
--From a press release - Chicago, Ill. — May 25th 2023 — Today, the Cook County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an amendment to the Human Rights Ordinance ensuring the protection of all individual's right to their own bodily autonomy. The ...

Gay News

Louisiana Senate committee kills anti-trans bill aimed at minors 2023-05-24
- The Louisiana Senate Health & Welfare Committee has stopped an anti-trans bill aimed at minors, WBRZ News 2 in Baton Rouge has reported. Republican committee chairman Fred Mills joined Democrats on May 24 to kill Louisiana House Bill 648—a bill tha ...

Gay News

HRC condemns Ohio state senate for passing education censorship bill 2023-05-24
--From a press release - Columbus, Ohio — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned the Ohio State Senate for passing ...

Gay News

Target removes some Pride merchandise after receiving threats 2023-05-24
- Ahead of Pride Month (June), Target is pulling some of its LGBTQ+ merchandise after facing "threats" and backlash from customers, Politico reported. Target's website features hundreds of items as part of its Pride Collection but will ...

Gay News

GLAAD, Equality Florida release resource of DeSantis' record of anti-LGBTQ+ info, actions 2023-05-23
--From a press release - (Tuesday, May 23, 2023) GLAAD and Equality Florida released the LGBTQ record of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an ongoing documentation of DeSantis' policies and rhetoric targeting LGBTQ people and issues. Read the DeSantis LGBTQ record on ...

Gay News

Advocates applaud Illinois General Assembly passage of House Bill 1286 for gender-neutral multiple-occupancy restrooms 2023-05-19
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Advocates celebrated passage by the Illinois General Assembly of House Bill 1286, legislation that will reduce barriers for businesses serving their communities and customers by allowing for the ...

Gay News

Gay lawyer appointed as Cook County judge 2023-05-19
- On May 18, Justice Joy V. Cunningham and the Illinois Supreme Court announced the appointment of Edward J. Underhill as an at-large Cook County Circuit judge, according to a press release. Underhill was appointed to fill ...

Gay News

HB 1286 would allow gender-inclusive multi-occupancy restrooms, Chicago groups respond 2023-05-19
--From a press release - Statement from AIDS Foundation Chicago, Equality Illinois, and Pride Action Tank regarding HB 1286 to allow gender-inclusive multi-occupancy restrooms: We applaud the Illinois Senate for passing HB 1286 and urge the Illinois House to act expeditiously ...

Gay News

NATIONAL DHS violence report, queer Democratic club, trans influencer dies, vigil, GLSEN Awards 2023-05-19
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that threats of violence against the LGBTQ+ community are increasing—and intensifying, according to ABC News. "These issues include actions linked to drag-themed events ...

Gay News

General Assembly moves closer to passing optional all-gender bathroom bill 2023-05-19
- On May 18, the Illinois Senate passed an amended version of a bill that would allow businesses and public institutions to provide multi-occupant all-gender bathrooms if they so choose, The Daily Herald reported. House Bill 1286 ...

Gay News

White House releases statement by President Biden on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia 2023-05-18
--From a press release - From the White House, May 17, 2023/B> Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and equality—no matter whom they love, or how they identify. On the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, we reaffirm ...


Copyright © 2023 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      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
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     
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.