Lamont Robinson: The Race for State Representative 5th District
By Mary L. Datcher
Lamont Robinson has been in the 5th District for the past 10 years as a small business owner. He owns and operates two Allstate agencies—one in his home district and the other on the North Side. Raised by his mother in a single parent household, he has worked hard to create a solid and successful agency building community and political relationships in his backyard.
Robinson’s entry into the State Representative 5th District race has become a four-man competition with candidates competing to gain Julianna Stratton’s seat, a legislative seat she beat former incumbent Ken Dunkin for in the 2016 election. The 5th district has a range of diversity spanning north to Oak Street along the Gold Coast as far south to certain parts of the 20th and 6th wards. Robinson’s bid to become the next State Representative is backed by Democratic Committeewoman and Alderman Pat Dowell.
The Chicago Defender interviewed Lamont Robinson about why he felt it was important to run for this office.
What makes the 5th District different from other areas?
I call the “Soul Coast the Gold Coast.” There are folks on the North Side who have prosperity and are doing well, but there are parts of the district that are not doing well. No one can have prosperity if we all are not prosperous. I want to bring prosperity to the district. The folks on the Northend who have achieved it—I want to make sure to spread that out. I want to make sure we have equal funding in our schools across the district. That’s extremely important to make sure our blocks are safe where people can walk and grab coffee or a sandwich and feel safe to do so.
What’s one of the top priorities on your list if elected?
My top priority is economic development. It would bring jobs to the community. It would also end the violence that is in the district.
As a businessman, what kind of business do you have and how long have you had it? From a business, what has been the challenges of having a business in the 5th District. Small businesses in particular?
One thing I’m very happy about is my involvement on two boards: The Quad Development Communities, Corp. (QDC)–it supports small businesses, connects them to support services, wrap around services, resources for their business; and then the Greater Englewood CDC– that has also brought Whole Foods to Englewood.
Those skills are in my toolkit for Springfield. I want to continue to support small businesses to give them the resources they need, and I will continue to do so as the next State Representative in the 5th District.
I often sit down with people to find out what their issues are and how to help them with the needs and concerns that they have whether that be life insurance, investment or their pensions or try to figure out how should they pull money out. I’ve been that person who’s helped people achieve and reach their dreams. I will continue to do so in the legislature.
With the Affordable Care Act being threatened, as a State Representative, what would you do to empower quality healthcare for constituents who may not have access?
As a small business owner, I pay my own health insurance and I have a high deductible. It’s extremely important that I also have care for my employees, but it’s extremely [expensive] for a small business owner. God forbid I get sick because my deductible is high. I understand we need to reform our healthcare particularly in the state of Illinois. We need to make sure it’s equitable across the board like for single parents, and we need to make that we’re putting reforms into place.
What’s behind the Ken Dunkin ‘sell out’ ads?
We were put in harm’s way. Our senior funding was lost and also funding for our daycare centers. So, folks that need services were hurt by former State Rep. Ken Dunkin and his votes and movements. I think that people need to know that and remember that. I know he’s said he’s made some mistakes, but the mistakes he’s made—hurt us. If you look at certain pockets of the district, it is still very depressing. Some of the areas of the South were hurt by the budget impasse. People need to understand we were sold bad goods.
What was your relationship with then State Rep. Dunkin as a businessman?
I know Ken Dunkin and we’re neighbors. I thought he understood the issues living where he does, but sometimes we lose our way. We forget about the folks that we’re serving, and I believe that is what happened. At some point, 13 years of being in service, Mr. Dunkin lost his way. We have folks who are in lock and step with the community and the concerns and the issues of the community—to be able to voice that in Springfield.
How can people become familiar with Lamont Robinson?
I am out every day in the district. If I can’t reach you in a high rise or in the neighborhood, I am calling even after dark. I want to make sure I’m reaching the voters and having conversations with them, making sure they know that I understand.