- Position sought: U.S. House of Representatives 1st District, Illinois
- Political party: Democrat
- Previously elected or appointed offices: Local School Council (Chair), William H. Ray Elementary School, Chicago, IL: 2008-2010.
- Website: http://www.lodato4congress.com
- Contact: Alex@lodato4congress.com
- Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/Lodato4Congress, https://twitter.com/Lodato4Congress
- Mailing address: P.O. Box 15354, Chicago, IL 60615
- Age: 50
- Immediate Family: Married, 14+ years, three sons (12, 9 and 3)
- Education: Ph.D., Political Science, University of Chicago, 1997
A.M., Political Science, University of Chicago, 1987
B.A., Government & Peace Studies, Manhattan College, 1984
- Occupation: Academic research
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?
Staff member for three Chicago aldermen (Bloom, 5th Ward: 1989-92; Preckwinkle, 4th Ward: 1997-99; Hairston, 5th Ward: 1999-2001).
Campaign volunteer for Obama, Currie, Moseley Braun (Senate) and numerous judicial candidates. Co-founder, Neighborhood Conservation Corps, 1995-97.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
My highest priority if elected to the U.S. House will be to support policies that will bring jobs to 1st District residents. Our district has an unemployment rate of 13.9 percent, about 50 percent higher than the national average. In some of our communities, the rate is considerably higher. We need to bring jobs in 21st Century industries to the 1st District in order to stabilize communities and families and provide a more secure future for our children.
How do you define a small business, and what can government do to support them that isn't being done?
I believe that government has defined small businesses as those that employ fewer than 25 people, although I would say that businesses that employ fewer than 50 people should also qualify. I would like to see the government give greater priority to purchasing goods and services from small businesses in order to retain and increase jobs in the U.S.
What steps would you take to reduce the federal deficit? If it includes tax increases, what taxes? And if it involves federal service cuts, which?
I support President Obama's proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts for those who earn more than $250,000/yr. I also believe that there will be substantial savings in the military budget as our troops are returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. These proposals, along with steady job growth, will help reduce the deficit.
What should the government do to create more jobs?
I believe that the policies of the United States government should emphasize job creation. My platform calls for the enactment of policies that require utilities to use an increasing percentage of renewable energy. The Environmental Law and Policy Center has recently published a report that lists the number of clean energy firms in Chicago and Cook County, many of which are poised to create jobs. Government should help to create this market, which will have ancillary benefits as well in terms of increasing employment, lowering social safety net expenditures, and reducing dependence on foreign oil.
I have also called for a continuation of President Obama’s investments in high-speed rail. We need to build the transportation system of the 21st Century. Chicago has always been the transportation hub of the nation, from the beginning of passenger rail service to the growth of O’Hare Airport today. The Midwest High Speed Rail Association has developed detailed plans for high-speed rail to nine midwestern cities. Many of these lines will come through the 1st District and can employ 1st District residents in jobs that cannot be outsourced.
Finally, I would revive the Superfund program and increase the number of toxic waste sites that are cleaned and ready to return to productive use.
Should there be repercussions for legislators who don’t read bills, and how do you enforce that?
Voters have the power to hold legislators to account for not reading bills they vote on, by defeating them at the next election.
Should the “No Child Left Behind Act” set different measurements than now for economically disadvantaged students, special education students, students learning English as a second language, etc?
Yes. Our public schools are required to educate all students who enroll within them. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has made sensible proposals for modifying this law. He would not require that all schools be 100 percent proficient in reading and math by 2014. He waives this standard for states that have adopted sufficient testing and accountability programs of their own and are making good progress.
Secretary Duncan is correct when he offers to partner with states that have assessed the needs of their students and are working effectively to improve their schools. The requirements that he opposes actually hurt schools that are working with students who are the farthest behind and suffer from challenging disabilities. We need to incentivize working with the students who need the most help, not encourage schools to cherry-pick students.
Should federal immigration policy be changed, and if so how?
I favor the DREAM Act and a path to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. At a time when deportations are on the rise, I want to investigate whether these are being carried out fairly and their impact on families.
What are your philosophies on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, and what should government’s role be in those issues?
I support marriage equality and am pro-choice. Government should not be in the business of practicing discrimination in marital rights.
What should minimum wage be and through what method should increases be determined?
The minimum wage is currently $7.25 nationally and $8.25 nationally. Currently, this is not sufficient to raise a family on a full-time job paying this rate. The minimum wage should be assessed every two years and increases should be determined by an assessment of the increases in consumer prices during that period, especially for essentials such as gas, food and clothing.
Bi-partisanship is given a lot of lip service by congressional members. Tell us how you would work with members of the opposite party?
I would work with Republicans to offer compromises on issues of import to their districts in order to ensure that policies and programs important to the 1st District are passed as well.
Do you think some or all of the health care bill should be repealed? What can the government do to provide more access and affordability to health care?
I support the Affordable Care Act and do not support its repeal in part or in whole. The ACA contains numerous experiments in cost control that will be undertaken in the next few years. Those that are most successful should be replicated and expanded. In addition, I support Medicare for All as a way to expand access to health care and to remove the 30% profit margin of for-profit coverage.
What should government’s role be in private sector finance?
Government should have a strong regulatory role in private sector finance and should reinstate regulations that separate out commercial banking from investment banking in order to avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial collapse.
Who are your political heroes and why?
Harold Washington, for his willingness to work with any citizen regardless of their previous support for him (or lack thereof).
Ted Kennedy, for his steadfast commitment to principle even when it wasn't politically popular.
Following the troop withdrawal from Iraq, what do you think is the future of the war on terror?
I don't believe that the war in Iraq had anything to do with the war on terror. No Iraqis were among the 9/11 hijackers, and the former government of Iraq has never been shown to have a role in the attacks on our soil. The war on terror will require constant vigilance and attention to new and ongoing threats, with a renewed commitment to intelligence gathering and interrupting plots, as the Obama Administration has been doing.
Have you ever been convicted of a felony, sued successfully or had a restraining order placed against you? If so, please explain.