Will County Board member Mike Fricilone announced last week that he is running for the Republican nomination in 2020 in the 3rd Congressional District.
Fricilone, 64, lives in Homer Glen and has served on the Will County Board since 2012. He used to chair the board’s finance committee until Democrats won control of the county board last year.
His announcement means that Art Jones, a neo-Nazi from Lyons who was the Republican nominee in 2018, will not have free ride to the general election next year if he decides to run again. Jones won the 2018 nomination after being the only candidate to file to run in the Republican primary.
Jones, 71, said that he has not yet decided whether to run for Congress again.
“I’m just kind of weighing whether or not to do it again,” said Jones, who received nearly 26 percent of the vote last November, losing to incumbent Dan Lipinski.
The 3rd District covers a large swath of the southwest suburbs in Cook, DuPage and Will counties, in addition to portions of Chicago’s Southwest Side. In Cook County, the district includes all of Brookfield south of Southview Avenue and the very southern tip of Riverside.
Fricilone said that Jones’ candidacy last year played a role in his decision to run for Congress in the heavily Democratic district.
“We really haven’t had a credible (Republican) candidate on the ballot for several years,” Fricilone said in a telephone interview with the Landmark. “I figured if we put a credible candidate on the Republican side we would have a chance.”
Fricilone works as a sales manager for office furniture retailer. He grew up on the Southwest Side of Chicago in the 23rd Ward, where Dan Lipinski’s father, Bill, was an alderman before being elected to Congress in 1982. Dan Lipinski succeeded his father in 2005.
“In this day and age people are looking for change in their representatives,” Fricilone said. “I’m a proponent of term limits. I don’t plan on doing this for the rest of my life. We had a Lipinski for 32 years.”
Fricilone opposes abortion rights and supports lower taxes.
“We should be trying helping you keep more of your money, not trying to take more of it from you, so I’ve always been for tax reforms that help small businesses grow because that’s the bulk of the economy,” Fricilone said.
He calls himself a forward-thinking conservative who cares about the environment and pushed for solar panels to be put on the new Will County Courthouse.
“I’m kind of a green person, but I believe if you’re going to move toward a more sustainable energy you need to have both a financial component as well as an environmental component,” Fricilone said. “It can’t be an unfunded mandate to force everybody to do something without there being a financial benefit, too.”
Fricilone said that he believes the current strong economy can help him make a strong race in the 3rd District.
“This district is a solid union Democratic district,” Fricilone said. “I honestly believe that that crowd believes in moving our economy forward, which is happening right now.
He opposes the Affordable Care Act.
“I think we need to find a way to give back people the choice that they had before, which I don’t think they have now,” Fricilone said, “but I’m not opposed to us looking at ways to provide health care to those who can’t afford it.”
He says that he believes more government is not usually the answer to problems.
“I’m a firm believer we need less government,” Fricilone said. “Government’s not the solution. A lot of time they’re the problem. We don’t need the government to run our life. People just need to be responsible; work hard and you will get ahead.”
During Fricilone’s time on the Will County Board his company, Midwest Office Interiors reportedly sold more than $1 million worth of office furniture to county government, but Fricilone says he played no role in the sales.
“A salesman in our office had been working with the county many years before I started on the county board,” Fricilone said. “All the furniture that they bought was off of a nationally negotiated contract kind of like a government GSA-type contract. Prices were already set. There was nothing I was involved in to sway anything.”
On the Democratic side, there are now three people who have announced plans to oppose Lipinski in next year’s primary, including Marie Newman, who narrowly lost a hard-fought primary to Lipinski last year.
The other two candidates are relative unknowns, attorney Abe Matthew, and former television newscaster Rush Darwish.
Fricilone said that he thinks it is possible he might have a better chance to defeat Newman than Lipinski.
“I think that’s very possible, because her views are even farther to the left and [the 3rd District], certainly in my thinking, it is really not a liberal Democratic area,” Fricilone said.
Fricilone said he didn’t consult with state Republican Party officials before deciding to run, but they were happy when he told them he is getting into the race.
“They said that they were elated to have somebody who had some credentials behind him, somebody who had been elected and done some good things for the community,” Fricilone said.