City Club of Chicago: Elected School Board: Yes or No?

Robert Martwick, Kwame Raoul and Jesse Ruiz during the "Elected School Board: Yes or No?" panel at the City Club of Chicago, August 29, 2016 (City Club of Chicago)

Robert Martwick, Kwame Raoul and Jesse Ruiz during the "Elected School Board: Yes or No?" panel at the City Club of Chicago, August 29, 2016 (City Club of Chicago)

August 29, 2016

Elected School Board: Yes or No? – Hon. Robert Martwick, Hon. Kwame Raoul, and Jesse Ruiz

Hon. Robert Martwick

The law, politics, and Rob Martwick have a long history together, from studying and practicing them to working on them at the local and state levels.

A graduate of Boston College and The John Marshall Law School, Rob learned criminal law as a criminal prosecutor, including as the lead on domestic violence cases for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

While still in law school, Rob melded his interest in the law and politics with a term as Norwood Park Township trustee. The township had four years of balanced budgets through cutting employee headcount without sacrificing excellent service. Rob narrowly lost his first bid for state politics in 1996 against a veteran Republican in state Senate leadership. Three years later, he won more votes than any other candidate for Norridge Village Trustee and served there for 12 years, working hard to balance budgets and creatively put the village on sound fiscal footing.

Since running and winning the 19th District Illinois House seat in 2012, Rob has quickly made an impression in Springfield at an incredibly challenging time. He has taken the lead on House approval of creating an elected school board and elected college board for the city of Chicago, with both aimed at empowering the people to own how their schools are managed and improved.

He worked closely with Treasurer Mike Frerichs to ensure life insurance companies find and pay beneficiaries on policies. And as the two political parties have been at odds on a state budget over the past year, Rob has publicly stood for the values important to his constituents and made clear working people will not become victims of deep-pocketed special interests.

Rob lives in Norridge with his wife Sharon, and they are expecting a child later this summer.

Kwame Raoul

State Senator Kwame Raoul was born in Chicago on September 30, 1964 to Haitian-born immigrants Janin Raoul, M.D. and Marie Therese Raoul. Senator Raoul has served the people of the 13th Legislative District since November 6, 2004. Raoul, who is a lifelong resident of the Hyde Park/Kenwood area, was tapped to fill the vacancy left by former State Senator Barack Obama’s election to the U.S. Senate.

A leading progressive voice in the Illinois Senate, Raoul has allowed real life experiences to shape his legislative philosophy. Since his arrival in Springfield, Raoul has championed legislation on criminal justice reform, including the recent historic legislation that abolishes the death penalty, legislation creating the Torture Inquiry Commission, and legislation promoting diversion programs for non-violent offenders. He also championed legislation aimed at breaking the code of silence by deterring intimidation of those who cooperate with law enforcement officers.

As chairman of the Senate’s Pension and Investment Committee, Sen. Raoul has fought hard for pension ethics reform and has led efforts to expand opportunities for minority and women-owned financial service firms and rid the state’s pension systems of corruption. As Chairman of the Senate’s Redistricting Committee, Sen. Raoul introduced legislation that created the Illinois Voting Rights Act to protect racial and language minorities in the legislative redistricting process. In addition, Raoul serves as Vice-Chair of the Criminal Law Committee and a member of the Judiciary, Consumer Protection, and Telecommunications & Technology Committees.

Raoul is a graduate of DePaul University (B.A., Political Science) and the Chicago-Kent College of Law. He is a resident of the Hyde Park community where he lives with his wife Kali and his two children, Che and Mizan.

Jesse H. Ruiz

Jesse H. Ruiz is a Corporate & Securities Partner at the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath. For over 19 years, he has focused his practice on business transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and private equity investments, equity and debt offerings, financings, the purchase and sale of assets from bankruptcy estates, and a variety of commercial transactions. Since 2006, Jesse has also served on the Board of Directors of Commonwealth Edison, an Exelon company.

Jesse is also a long-time public education advocate. Between May 2011 and November 2015, he has served as Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education. He served as the Interim CEO of the Chicago Public School System from April through July of 2015. From September 2004 to May 2011, Jesse served as Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, and also chaired the Illinois Council on Re-enrolling Students Who Have Dropped Out of School. For almost five years prior to his ISBE appointment, he was a commissioner on the Chicago Public Schools Desegregation Monitoring Commission. From 2011 to 2013, Jesse also served on the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission.

In November 2015, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Jesse the President of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners.

He is also a member of several other nonprofit boards, including the Chicago Bar Association Board of Managers and the Chicago Community Trust Executive Committee.

Jesse received his Juris Doctorate from The University of Chicago Law School, where he served as an editor of the University of Chicago Law School Roundtable, and his Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.