Gay judicial candidate Michael A. Forti hosted a campaign fundraiser Feb. 1 at the Lakeview nightspot Sidetrack.
Forti is running for the Democratic nomination for Cook County Circuit Court judge in the March primary, hoping to fill the vacancy left by Judge Henry R. Simmons Jr.
Once circuit court judges is elected, they are assigned to a division by the chief judge, with novices to the bench starting in traffic court.
"Experience is the No. 1 criterion that voters should look at. I have 30 plus years of experience, much more than my other opponents," said Forti. "I think experience matters, not only in the number of years, but also the kind of work I've done."
After studying law at Northwestern University, Forti worked as a litigator in the private sector. He currently serves as deputy corporation counsel for the City of Chicago, handling a wide variety of cases and supervising up to 25 lawyers.
"I have been a deputy in the city's law department for 17 years, which I find very rewarding, but friends of mine who are on the bench had always said to me that they thought I had the right temperament and skill set to serve. And with Mayor Daley retiring, I thought this might be the right time to make a move," said Forti.
Personal PAC, Italian American Political Coalition, Victory Fund and Cook County Democratic Party have all endorsed Forti, and the Chicago Bar Association has found him highly qualified for the position.
Gay judges often come under fire from LGBT-rights opponentscalling them biased activistsbut Forti promises to be an impartial arbitraitor.
"I would be fair in any case that I consider. It would be no more likely that you can say a straight judge would be unfair," said Forti. "I would apply the law fairly to whomever is in my courtroom."