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State Senator Kwame Raoul of Chicago, Illinois

State Senator Kwame Raoul was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 30, 1964, to Haitian-born immigrants Janin Raoul, M.D. and Marie Therese Raoul. His personal commitment to the people of the South Side of Chicago was fostered early in his life by the work of his father, who served as a physician to the Woodlawn, North Kenwood, Grand Boulevard and Englewood communities for over thirty years. Kwame is a lifelong resident of the Hyde Park/Kenwood area, where he lives with his wife Kali, son Che (6) and daughter Mizan (4).

Senator Raoul earned his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from DePaul University and a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1993. His formative instruction, from kindergarten through high school (at Ancona School, Harvard St. George and the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools), took place in the very area he now serves in the Illinois Senate.
 

As a former Cook County Prosecutor and now Senior Attorney for the City Colleges of Chicago, Senator Raoul is a career advocate for the neighborhoods comprising the 13th Senate District. Partnering with Aldermen Toni Preckwinkle and Leslie Hairston, Senator Raoul has served as the director of volunteer legal clinics in each Ward. During his private practice he successfully represented indigent clients, protected their civil liberties and ensured that those in need received required human services.
 

Senator Raoul's career is a reflection of his commitment to community service and comprehensive legal expertise. His unwavering community involvement, commitment to public service and firm grasp of Illinois law have prepared him to represent the interests of the 13th District. The Senator is also the founder and director of the Janin and Marie Raoul Foundation, which promotes healthcare as a human right. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Cook County Bar Association and the Cook County Bar Foundation. He has also served as a member of the Quad Community Development Corporation's Community Enrichment Committee.

Reflecting his commitment to young people, Senator Raoul has served as an advisory board member and mentor for the Ariel Foundation, a Hyde Park Biddy Basketball coach and an AYSO Soccer volunteer. He has participated in voter registration campaigns with Rainbow/PUSH and has served as a volunteer Election Day lawyer to protect voters' rights. He is also a life member and former North Central Province Board member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and he and his family are members of Trinity United Church of Christ.

 

Kwame at the Bud Billiken Parade

Kwame Raoul was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 30, 1964, to Haitian-born immigrants Janin Raoul, M.D. and Marie Therese Raoul. Kwame's personal commitment to the people of the South Side of Chicago was fostered early in his life by the work of his father, who served as a physician to the Woodlawn, North Kenwood, Grand Boulevard and Englewood communities for over thirty years. Kwame is a lifelong resident of the Hyde Park/Kenwood area, where he lives with his wife Kali, son Che (6) and daughter Mizan (4). He now seeks to represent the South Side lakefront communities, including Hyde Park and Kenwood, in the Illinois Senate.
(shown: Kwame Raoul at the Bud Billiken Parade.)

Kwame is highly qualified to represent the interests of the 13th Legislative District. He is an attorney who has practiced law since 1993. He attained his entire education, from elementary through law school, in Chicago. His formative instruction, from kindergarten through high school (at Ancona School, Harvard St. George and the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools), took place in the very area he now seeks to serve.

Kwame is a career courtroom and community advocate. He would bring to the legislature substantial experience in both interpreting and applying Federal and State law--at the trial and appellate levels. As a former prosecutor with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Kwame represented the interests of abused and neglected children and criminal victims. In his current position as an attorney representing the City Colleges of Chicago, Kwame serves as chief internal negotiator for the college district in labor/management relations. This experience has helped to develop Kwame's understanding of the need to overhaul funding formulas for public education. It is that depth of knowledge that has earned Kwame's Senatorial candidacy the support of Chicago Public Schools' Chief Executive Officer, Arne Duncan, and Chairman of the Chicago Urban League and Ariel Capital Management, Inc., John Rogers.

Kwame and Dorothy Brown at the Bud Billiken Parade

Partnering with Aldermen Toni Preckwinkle (4th Ward) and Leslie Hairston (5th Ward), Kwame has served as the director of volunteer legal clinics in each Ward. During his private practice, Kwame successfully represented indigent clients, protected their civil liberties and ensured that those in need received required human services. His superior knowledge of legislation stems from this broad legal experience: assisting clients in civil rights, education, health and human services, employment/labor relations, workers' compensation, criminal justice, child welfare and personal injury matters.
(shown: Kwame Raoul with Dorothy Brown.)

Kwame's career is a reflection of his commitment to community service and comprehensive legal expertise. In 1996, as a candidate for State Senator of the 12th Legislative District, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Southtown endorsed Kwame over the incumbent, due to his deep sensitivity to the needs of the community and his clear legislative objectives and priorities. Today, he remains a resident of the 13th Legislative District, which was part of the 12th District during his previous Senatorial candidacy. Kwame's unwavering community involvement, commitment to public service and firm grasp of Illinois law have prepared him to continue to serve and represent the interests of the community in a greater role, as State Senator Kwame Raoul.

Kwame's priorities are in line with those of 13th District residents. Education, public safety, health care and economic development are Kwame's principal areas of interest.

Hyde Park attorney Kwame Raoul was named to replace Barack Obama in the state legislature Saturday following a months-long campaign which drew a small crowd of candidates seeking the seat. Raoul was immediately sworn in that afternoon.

The announcement came from Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who headed an 11-member committee to find a replacement from among seven candidates, many of whom call Hyde Park home. The committee met in a McCormick Place conference room for several hours where they interviewed candidates individually on policy positions and their backgrounds.

Raoul was the only candidate who had experience running for office, which may have been the deciding factor in his being chosen. He campaigned unsuccessfully to unseat Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), who was also on the selection committee, and also for the 12th Senatorial District seat in 1996. Raoul is a senior attorney for the City Colleges of Chicago who, along with heavy campaigning in recent months, helped craft a contract between faculty and chancellors at the schools the same day as the appointment, ending a three-week walkout by teachers.

“He has demonstrated a desire to represent the people of the district before,” said U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1), who is also 2nd Ward committeeman. “He ran unsuccessfully but he ran ... He has had the stick-to-it-ness that I’m impressed by. He’s not a fly-by-night individual who just woke up and decided he wanted to run for office.”

Raoul and others were grilled by the committee, which was made up of mostly aldermen from wards that comprise the 13th District, with the exception of Rush. Alds. Arenda Troutman (20th) and Dorothy Tillman (3rd) were absent.

The announcement came as a surprise to some. Will Burns, who works as an advisor to state Senate President Emil Jones, raised over $40,000, he said, and seemed to hold pole position in the campaign for appointment because of his proximity to Jones. Burns left hurriedly following the announcement but vowed to run against Raoul in the 2006 election.

“You have to trust the judgment of the committeemen and respect their decision,” Burns said to reporters. “We live in America and there’s going to be elections in 2006 and we’ll see what happens then.”

Raoul said he was eager to begin work with Jones and other Democrats in Springfield. He was to attend the legislature’s fall veto session beginning Monday. The session lasts until Nov. 18.
He was sworn in by state Supreme Court Judge Alan Freeman on the spot.

Raoul replaces former state Sen. Obama, who was elected to the U.S. Senate Nov. 2 and resigned his old post Thursday. Obama did not however consult with the committee or make a recommendation prior to appointment according to Hairston.

“I think Kwame [Raoul] is more than qualified and I think he’s got that fire in his belly,” Hairston said. “He has exposure and experience with constituent services. He has demonstrated for the past few years his commitment to his constituents.”

Raoul said he has raised $60,000 throughout his campaign and says he will continue fund-raising until the 2006 primary.

Other candidates included Hyde Park attorney Al Hofeld, Jr., who received the only vote not cast for Raoul and said he will mull over running in 2006; former Cook County Bar Association President Stephan Stern; Park Manor Christian Church pastor James L. Demus III; Hyde Park consultant Chris Stanek; and Hyde Parker Wendy Alan Ayers.

Raoul said he would immediately work on issues involving funding for public schools and the Chicago Transit Authority which he said was “in a crisis situation.”

“I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and starting immediately,” Raoul said.

 

 

 

 

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