Bob Fioretti, Candidate for Illinois State Senate, 5th District

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Candidate Full Name: Bob Fioretti

Office: Illinois State Senate, 5th District

Party: Democrat

Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)

1. Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.

Bob Fioretti was born and raised on the South Side, the son of a Polish-American mother and an Italian immigrant father. A Civil Rights attorney and former progressive leader on the Chicago City Council, Bob believes it's time for Springfield to be held accountable. State Government has refused to provide fair funding and support for growth in Chicago. Springfield has not adequately contributed to our Schools, Economic Development and Public Safety. Bob will take the fight to Springfield to make our neighborhoods safer, schools better, create jobs and wage growth.

Bob attended St. Anthony's Grammar School and Mendel High School. He received a Pullman Foundation scholarship to attend the University of Illinois, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and served as Student Body President.

He earned his law degree from Northern Illinois University College of Law, where he remains a member of the adjunct faculty. He served as President of the NIU National Alumni Association from 2000 to 2004 and as President of the NIU College of Law Alumni Council.

As a practicing attorney, Bob has been involved in more than 500 civil rights cases, and his personal trial experiences have led to over 100 state and federal verdicts and appellate court decisions. Bob represented the family of Baby Tamia in the high-profile adoption case that led to changes in Illinois adoption law. He has been appointed in numerous cases as a Special Assistant Attorney General of Illinois and a Special Assistant State's Attorney.

While Bob's primary focus is his work to improve Chicago, Bob is Of Counsel to the law firm Orum & Roth LLC in Chicago, where he practices governmental law and complex litigation. He was recently named one of the 10 best state and local government attorneys in Illinois by Super Lawyers Magazine.

Bob is deeply involved in the Chicago community, where he has served as president of the Historic Pullman Foundation, the Character and Fitness Committee of the Illinois Supreme Court and the Judicial Evaluation Committee of the Chicago Bar Association Executive Committee.

Bob is widely recognized for his public service and leadership. For his efforts to improve and expand public parks in the Chicago, Bob received the 2009 "Legislator of the Year" award from Friends of the Parks, a non-profit, Chicago-based park advocacy group. In 2010 and 2012 he received a Best Aldermanic Voting Record Award from the IVI-IPO. For his work supporting public education, he received the 2011 "Defender of Public Schools" award from the Chicago Teachers Union.

Bob founded and led the Progressive Reform Caucus in the Chicago City Council, an important group that kept many issues from being rubber stamped and aired them for public input. In many cases, issues he highlighted would have slid through the body unnoticed by the public without the Progressive Caucus.

In eight years as an alderman Bob brought more than $350 million in infrastructure and 8,500 jobs into his district, including 500 high-paying careers as part of the Rush Medical Center expansion he facilitated. He also brought major retailers such as Pete's Fresh Market, Costco, and Whole Foods into the ward, becoming the first alderman to eradicate a food dessert. And this was during many years of an economy beset by the worst recession in a century.

An avid Blackhawks fan and griller on his backyard BBQ pit, Bob lives in the West Loop with his wife, Nicki Pecori Fioretti.

2. Governor Bruce Rauner and other politicians are pushing for term limits for Illinois legislators. Do you favor term limits? Why or why not? If yes, what type of term limits do you favor?

I do favor term limits and I think our state is a perfect example as to why they are necessary. We are leading the nation in obstructionism and that's largely because the people who serve the longest get the most money and become entrenched no matter what their legislative agenda.

In addition to that, we need a system that turns seats over once in awhile so we can have fresh leadership, new ideas and benefit from a greater number of elected officials contributing to the mix while they're still fresh.

3. What solution would you propose to get a budget passed in the State of Illinois?

I don't know that there is any one solution an individual legislator can propose to get Gov. Rauner to stop holding hostage our state, our social service and our citizens. But there are some really simple steps we can take if Rauner will get past absolute partisanship

First, we separate the turnaround items he wants considered. They shouldn't keep us from having a budget for more than a year.

Then we pass a progressive income tax that increases the amount of revenue we have. We need a tax in which our wealthiest people pay their fair share to move things forward.

Once that is done, we can start looking at where to make cuts and where to find additional revenue. There is an enormous amount of work to be done, but there are some achievable first steps we can make happen.

4. Chicago is the only city in Illinois with an appointed school board. Other large American cities, including San Francisco, elect their school board members. Would you favor changing Illinois law to provide Chicago with an elected school board? Why or why not?

I have been fighting for an elected school board for more than a decade. I would start working to change the law to require elected school boards from Day One in Springfield. Why? Our appointed school board has been a lucrative stop for far too many people; Barbara Byrd Bennett is only the most recent and highest profile. Don't let her indictment make us forget about Deborah Quazzo, an investment banker whose companies received nearly $1 million in payments from CPS over three years before she took a board seat, and then $2.9 million during the 18 months immediately after she took her board seat. The level of naked greed is appalling and needs to be stopped immediately. But in addition the school system belongs to the public, not just to the bureaucrats. An elected school board would be accountable to the voters and suffer the elective consequences if they are not performing the will of the people

5. Voters say they are turned off by the negative and misleading TV ads that dominate the air waves. However, campaign and election experts say candidates rely on them because "they work." Will you and your campaign agree to refrain from running negative ads from now until the election?

We are running an issue-based campaign, as all campaigns should be.

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