Candidate Nardello introduces himself in town hall meeting
Chicago, 02/16/12--State Rep. candidate Michael Nardello greets citizens at the door as they arrive for a meeting. Michael Nardello held a Town Hall meeting Thursday evening as a 78th District State Representative candidate. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Next meeting Feb. 28
Michael D. Nardello, candidate for Illinois State Representative of the 78th District, will discuss how people can work together to improve the financial condition of Illinois with new representation in Springfield.
The public town hall meeting will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the Nineteenth Century Charitable Association’s clubhouse at 178 Forest Ave., in Oak Park (across the street from Austin Gardens). Refreshments will be served.
For more information, call KL Daly at (708) 337-0766.
Updated: March 24, 2012 8:27AM
Michael Nardello, who is vying for the 78th District’s state representative seat in March, had his first in a series of town hall meetings on Feb. 16.
The meeting took place at Royal Gardens, 2515 N. Harlem Ave., which is in Chicago’s Mont Clare neighborhood and is just east of Elmwood Park. Both areas fall within the 78th District, where he is running against his incumbent Camille Lilly.
There were about 70 people in the banquet hall and were made up of supporters, friends and family, skeptics and curious residents. One major supporter in attendance was 34th Ward Chicago Alderman Nicholas Sposato whose ward falls within the 78th District.
During the meeting Nardello stressed several problems he’d like to work to solve if elected and they are: the state’s unbalanced budget and debt, job creation and corruption.
He said there is no easy way to balance the budget but one way to move in that direction is to do things differently. He said the state pension has become a slush fund for the state and it has to stop.
“Chicago is the only municipality that pays into the pension, the rest rely on the state,” he said.
He believes state pensions should be turned over and handled locally like most non-state employees retirements are handled.
Like most employees, one main requirements for them to stay employed is to show up for work on time. If not they should be penalized until they do and Nardello believes the state should be penalized for late payments to state agencies, organizations and municipalities it funds.
“If the state can’t pay their bills on time we should roll back their income taxes (to the rate before the increase),” he said. “If we could hold the state accountable and hit them in their pockets they will be more accountable.”
He based the idea on a piece of state legislation that was put out to keep the state accountable, but did not pass.
“What it was saying is we (state legislature) are going to punish ourselves and make the state pay its bills on time,” he said
After talking about his goals and plans if elected, he fielded written questions from the audience. One person asked if he would stick to his political convictions or go with the flow, if elected.
He said he might if he did he’d have his mother to answer to, who was in attendance.
“My mother has been the matriarch of the family,” he said. “To sum it up, I would not want to disappoint her.”
One person in the audience questioned if he was a real Democrat or a Republican in disguise saying it was hard to tell from his political literature. The 78th District state representative seat was formerly held by Angelo “Skip” Saviano, a Republican, but changed after the district boundaries had been re-drawn recently.
In response Nardello held up his right hand and said, “I raise my right hand and swear I’m a Democrat.”
“I could not be a Republican and work for the City of Chicago for 20 years,” he said.
Nardello is director of Finance for Family and Support Services, Senior Services Division for City of Chicago.
He was also questioned about his view on gay marriage. He said he supports it although some in the audience were not happy with his answer.
“The 78th District believes in gay marriage because they believe in equality across the board and that’s what the community is asking for,” he said.
Robert Ludwig, 73, of Elmwood Park was one of those who disagreed saying marriage is between a man and a woman and opens the door for more requests.
“What are they going to ask for tomorrow?” he said. “A man and a woman should be together.”
When asked if he would vote for Nardello, he said he wasn’t sure yet.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever saw him,” he said. “I vote for the best man, I’m more of an independent, but my wife is more of a Republican.”
Another question was his position on double-dipping government employees, who retire collect a pension and then come back to work and collects a salary on top of it.
“I don’t agree with a person being paid for two jobs by the state,” he said.
If elected, Nardello would put emphasis on bringing more economic development to the district without dangling too big of a carrot.
“We set a bad precedent when we give them (businesses) huge tax breaks,” he said. “We gave a big one to Sears, but what are we getting for it? Any new jobs?”
One of his strongest supporters is a bit biased, his mother Linda Nardello, who lives only a block away from him.
“He really feels very strong about doing what he’s doing,” she said. “I know this is what he wants to do and I want to let him follow the path he wants to take.”
She just worries that he’s getting enough rest. That might be hard to do until Election Day and possibly beyond that, but he has dedicated his campaign to her.
“I want to begin working for the communities on a local level,” he said. “I want to drop the ‘state’ in state rep and be a representative for everyone,” he said.