Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Fricilone's vote in the 2018 election.
In 2018, the race for U.S. representative of the Third Congressional District of Illinois drew national attention, in part because the lone Republican candidate was Arthur Jones, a former neo-Nazi who described himself as a “white racialist.”
Mike Fricilone, of Homer Glen, doesn’t want to see that happen again.
Longtime incumbent Dan Lipinski, a Democrat from Western Springs, won the 2018 election, and Fricilone will now try to beat Lipinski or another Democrat in next year’s election.
Fricilone, 64, announced his candidacy in June, becoming the only Republican in the race.
A campaign spokesperson said Fricilone voted for Jones. After publication of this article, Fricilone campaign officials said Fricilone did not vote for Jones.
"Mike voted for all Republicans except Arthur Jones in both the primary and general. He voted for no person in that selection for Congressman leaving it blank for both the general and primary," said Fricilone's campaign manager, Steve Balich.
Fricilone said he doesn’t want people like Jones involved in politics.
“That was my first thought,” Fricilone said. “We can’t have someone like that running for Congress—on either side of the aisle.”
Fricilone described himself as a “forward-thinking conservative.” He has served on the Will County Board since 2012, and he is the executive director of Midwest Office Interiors in Woodridge.
Fiscally conservative, Fricilone said he supports the current White House administration’s policies and wants to implement such ideas in the Third District, which includes parts of Beverly, Morgan Park and Mt. Greenwood and extends to several southwest suburbs.
People shouldn’t be burdened by so many taxes, he said. He said as chair of the Will County Finance Committee that he reduced the tax rate for four consecutive years. He also takes pride in the fact that while developing a plan for several buildings under construction currently in Will County, he didn’t raise taxes.
“My [stance] is if you are a hard-working person, you should be able to keep more of your money and not give it away so that people who don’t work get rewarded,” he said. “Nothing in life is free. It’s got to come from somewhere. I really get irritated when people say the government will pay for it. The government doesn’t pay for it. The taxpayer pays for it.”
Fricilone also supports reducing government regulations to promote small businesses in the district.
He has served as president of the Lockport High School Foundation and has been a member of the Children Advocacy Center and the vice president of the Order Sons of Italy in America.
The primary election will be March 17, 2020, with the general election on Nov. 3.
In last year’s primary, Lipinski edged Marie Newman, of La Grange, with 51 percent of the vote. He then handily defeated Jones and multiple write-in candidates in the general election with 74 percent of the vote.
Jones earned about 26 percent, receiving the most support in Mt. Greenwood.
Lipinski is a conservative Democrat, and he is pro-life and did not support the Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare. Newman, who is challenging Lipinski again, has more liberal stances, and Fricilone described her as a “Democratic socialist” who doesn’t have “any ideas that I would support.”
Lipinski, who is also being challenged in the primary by Abe Matthew, an attorney from Bridgeport, has held office since 2005. His father, Bill Lipinski, held the position since 1993, and after he won the 2004 primary, he retired and pushed party officials to have his son fill his spot.
Dan Lipinski then easily won his first election with 73 percent of the vote.
Fricilone said the influence of the Lipinskis has run its course.
“It’s time for a change,” he said.
Fricilone grew up in Garfield Ridge—a South Side neighborhood about 10 miles north of Beverly—and has also lived in Chicago Ridge and Orland Hills, the latter of which is in the district.
His wife, Barb, grew up in Bridgeport, which is also part of the district.
He said he has lived in the district his entire life except his four years in college. He said that helps him empathize with voters.
“I have this broad-stroke brush,” he said, “of where everybody in this district comes from.”
For more information, visit the website at friciloneforcongress.com.