Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


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



Harris Ready for Rep Duties
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 3868 times since Wed Nov 1, 2006
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The number 13 might be unlucky for some, but Greg Harris is probably liking it a lot right about now. In late August, the chief of staff for Ald. Mary Ann Smith was selected by several Democratic ward committeemen in a slate-making meeting to replace retiring 13th District State Rep. Larry McKeon on the Nov. 7 ballot. ( Harris is also guaranteed the seat since he is running unopposed. )

Windy City Times: You've talked about there being a distinction between being a gay state representative and being a gay man who happens to be a state representative. What is the difference?

Greg Harris: I think a lot of people in my district are concerned if I'm going to be looking out for the interests of an incredibly diverse district or if I'm going to down [ to Springfield ] with a very narrow special interest simply because I'm gay. I was chosen to represent all the interests of the people in my district.

My district has a wide variety of interests: you have very low-income people as well as some of the wealthiest in the city; people concerned about the environment; people wondering about affordable housing; about access to healthcare; people concerned about property taxes; and others. Those cut across all lines of race, gender, age and sexual orientation. I have to go and represent all of those interests. But as a man who's openly gay and living with HIV/AIDS, those are issues that I'm going to attend to—along with all the others because, despite the breakdowns in the district, I'm fortunate to represent a progressive group of people who care about equal rights, social justice, reproductive choice and equal access to healthcare [ among others ] .

WCT: On a scale of 1 ( not at all ) to 10 ( absolutely ) , how ready are you for the next phase of your life?

GH: It's very overwhelming at this point; I don't want to put a number on it at this point. I'm getting better and better every day. I'm very fortunate in that I'm able to hit the ground running so, to that degree, I'm probably a 7 or an 8. My background in government service [ gives ] me a pretty good understanding of plenty of the issues that I'll be facing in Springfield, including tax, fiscal, housing, transit, civil-rights and environmental issues.

Now, I have to get a lot more familiar with details regarding those issues. I have to learn an entire $53 billion budget, how it's allocated and how it's funded. I have to learn a new legislative process. And the part that I still have difficulty putting my arms around is meeting all the expectations that people have.

WCT: You listed a lot of issues. Are you concerned that any of those will be left out?

GH: I think that there'll have to be some prioritization. Everything seems to follow the money. I go to block and community meetings every week and something that everyone seems to bring up is revenue. Getting the state's fiscal house in better order is the first overarching priority. If all the money is going to fill these huge unmet needs, then the amounts available for healthcare and housing diminishes. We've got to find a steady stream of reliable revenue that's fair and progressive to people that doesn't put any undue burden on one sector of the economy. Right now, the property tax burden that's funding public education is crushing those who live on low income; they have to make some terrible choices about cutting back on necessities to pay these taxes.

People understand that revenue has to come from somewhere. They're willing to talk about raising an income tax that funds education while being relieved of other tax burdens that the local government [ imposes ] . There's a lot of concern about economics, but people are willing to do their fair share.

WCT: What would you say is your biggest disadvantage?

GH: I'm the new kid on the block and my learning curve has to be really fast. I'm fortunate in that some of my colleagues in the General Assembly have taken me under their wing and shown me the ropes. Speaker [ Mike ] Madigan has been wonderful in getting me documents and helping me get up to speed. I've also got a wonderful advantage in having personal relationships with some people that stretch back years—and I don't just mean people in the legislature. There are Terry Cosgrove from [ pro-choice organization ] Personal PAC, Mary Dixon from the ACLU and Rick Garcia from Equality Illinois, who are all helping me figure out how to get things done.

WCT: Let's go back to that slate-making meeting. How confident were you of your chances going in?

GH: I don't think I was confident one way or the other. All of the candidates put forth their credentials. We all realized that we came from a variety of different experiences and backgrounds; I don't think anyone was certain what the committeemen chose as the key credentials.

WCT: And what was the first thought that went through your head when you were selected?

GH: 'Holy cow!' [ Laughs ] 'Now I have to do this thing.' My mind started racing about all the details, including fundraising, knowing issues and finding a place to live in Springfield. Meanwhile, the lawyers from the General Assembly and Democratic Party were buzzing around with forms to sign and things to notarize. It was a little overwhelming.

WCT: So how do you plan to reach out to your conservative counterparts?

GH: I think I would in the same way that I have in this job: on a very personal basis. I don't believe that simply because someone has different views than I do about an issue, that we have to be enemies. I think that people can have opposing views and still work in an collegial manner. That's one of the things that bothers me about Washington—everyone has to be victorious and if you don't agree with something, you're evil. I'm not sure that's necessarily the case; people can disagree for very good reasons. When you get to know people as individuals and develop mutual respect, I think that there's the possibility that minds can be changed; I think that's very important.

Also, there are 177 of us in the legislature—and we all represent different groups with different needs. I'm going to need some of my colleagues' votes on my issues and they're going to need my vote on their issues.

WCT: Is there anything you want to add?

GH: I really hope that we're have a lot of events where we attract new people to the political process. One problem we have is that people feel they can't make a difference. I would love to give young people and people who are new to the political process a chance to understand how campaigns, the government and the electoral process work.

This article shared 3868 times since Wed Nov 1, 2006
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

WORLD Archbishop demoted, Israel ruling, Denmark petition, tennis icon 2022-01-16
- Pope Francis demoted Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, the number-two official in the doctrine office, due to the belief that he is responsible for the controversial document that bars blessings for same-sex couples, according to Newsweek. Morandi is ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Lambda Legal, Penn. city's change, couple on the run, Bayard Rustin 2022-01-16
- Lambda Legal filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society, Inc. on behalf of a former employee who was fired after they and other Dallas Arboretum ...

Gay News

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund ED urges action on voting rights 2022-01-14
-- From a press release - "The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund urges the U.S. Senate to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Voting rights are a cornerstone of our democratic process and ...

Gay News

POLITICS Laura Ricketts co-chairing Valencia's finance committee 2022-01-13
- Laura Ricketts—a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, along with her family, and a leader in the LGBTQ+ community—is co-chairing the finance committee of Illinois secretary of state candidate Anna Valencia, according to the Politico Illinois Playbook. ...

Gay News

Martwick: Dept on Aging seeking nominees for Senior Hall of Fame 2022-01-12
- Illinois state Sen. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) announced the Illinois Department on Aging is seeking nominations for the Senior Illinoisan Hall of Fame. "Many of our senior citizen neighbors have put incredible amounts of time and effort ...

Gay News

Mayor Lightfoot tests positive for COVID-19 2022-01-11
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that she's tested positive for COVID-19. On Jan. 11, she issued a statement saying, "Earlier today, I tested positive for COVID-19. I am experiencing cold-like symptoms but otherwise feel fine which ...

Gay News

Minneapolis City Councilor Andrea Jenkins elected City Council President 2022-01-10
—From an HRC press release - MINNEAPOLIS ā€” Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) congratulates Andrea Jenkins, a Minneapolis City Councilor and Human Rights Campaign board member, on her election to the role of City Council President. Jenkins, who became the first ...

Gay News

Clay Aiken announces another political run 2022-01-10
- Former American Idol star Clay Aiken announced he's running for Congress in North Carolina, seeking the Democratic nomination in the 6th District, reported. In a video posted online, the openly gay father reintroduces himself, saying, ...

Gay News

Lightfoot announces director for new public-safety commission 2022-01-10
- On Jan. 10, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that Adam Gross will be the first-ever executive director of the newly created Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. "The establishment of a community-led Commission for oversight ...

Gay News

WORLD German official, museum items, cake case 2022-01-09
- WORLD COMPILED BY WCT STAFF In Senegal, lawmakers stopped from passing to parliamentary vote a draft bill that sought to toughen already severe laws against same-sex relations, Openly News reported. Gay sex is punishable by up ...

Gay News

Lightfoot, CTU still stuck in stalemate; classes canceled Jan. 10 [UPDATE] 2022-01-08
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) are still stuck in a stalemate over remote versus in-person learning, with classes canceled again for Jan. 10. ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT For LGBTQ community, the movement behind Jan. 6 is an existential threat 2022-01-08
- The stakes could not be higher. The LGBTQ movement has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams in democratic societies worldwide. Where we have had access to freedom of speech and assembly, remarkable advances have followed. This is ...

Gay News

Bobblehead Hall of Fame unveils Pete Buttigieg figure 2022-01-07
- The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, in Milwaukee, unveiled the first bobblehead of United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who was the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, during 2012-20, earning him the nickname ...

Gay News

Pritzker issues statement on anniversary of Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection 2022-01-06
- Chicago, IL - On the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Insurrection, Governor JB Pritzker released the following statement. "One year ago, a vicious attack on American democracy left five police officers dead and scores of ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS Chicago Ald. Pat Powell announces congressional run 2022-01-05
- Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell has dropped her bid to be the next Illinois secretary of state and will, instead, run to succeed retiring U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush. In a statement, Dowell said: "First, I want to ...


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.






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.