This month we highlight the distinguished career of Raymond E. Rossi, highly respected judge of the Twelfth Circuit Court (Subcircuit Number 5) in Joliet. He was elected in 2010 and his current term expires in 2016. Judge Rossi has had a distinguished career as a Village President (1993-2005), Chairperson of the South Suburban Tollway Authority (1995-2003, and Executive Committee member of the Chicago Area Transportation Council (2001-2005) and a plethora of other appointed and elected prominent positions in the community and local government. He is a dedicated community leader, someone who wears his Italian ethnicity on his sleeve, and a contributor to the wellbeing of not only the Italian-American community, but of people across the board.
When asked why Judge Rossi became a judge, he provided his judicial philosophy: “I’ve never run for office because I wanted to be someone, but rather because I want to do something. My goals in becoming a circuit court judge are to promote appreciation for the legal profession, promote continued respect to the Will County Judiciary, keep our streets safe and, in general, ensure that the tough decisions that are to be made are correctly made through common sense and a conservative judicial approach. I believe that these are the qualities one needs to run for judge.”
Judge Rossi served with great distinction as Village President (Mayor) of Frankfort for 12 years from 1993 to 2005, making significant advances for its residences. During that time, he was instrumental in lowering the tax rate in each of his twelve years while also instituting a tax rebate program for residents and creating a surplus each year. He achieved over $12,000,000 in grants, oversaw construction of a new police station that was paid by funds on-hand, multiplied economic growth, revitalized the downtown district, orchestrated development of parks and recreation facilities and created numerous communication tools to interact with community.
His civic work also includes the volunteer position as Chairperson of the South Suburban Tollway Authority (3rd Extension), Executive Committee member of the Chicago Area Transportation Council (“CATS”) and Grand Knight (President) of the Knights of Columbus Council 9770. He was nominated by Governor Edgar and twice confirmed by the Senate to be a volunteer member of the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority. He has been a Frankfort Township Committeeman, elected every 2 years from approximately 1984 to present, no small feat, started the Frankfort Main Street program and was the founder, head coach and President of the Falcons Wrestling Club that provides wrestling instruction to youth 5 days a week for 5 months of each year. Besides being a terrific elected official, his involvement with youth athletics demonstrates another side of this dynamic successful Italian-American. A man who truly cares about his community and people in general.
Judge “Raymondo” has authored and published cutting edge legal articles, been a long-time arbitrator (Panel Chairman), a long-time member of the Frankfort Lions and Knights of Columbus, was a leader on the Frankfort elementary School Action Plan Committee (Education Foundation study) and an Executive Board of Directors member of the Rainbow Council of Boy Scouts of America. He was also an elected Frankfort Township Trustee, Chairman of a Plan Commission, President, officer and director of a local homeowners association, on the Will County Board Old Plank Trail Committee, received the Service to Community Award of the Italian American Political Coalition, the political voice of our community, and been a member of the Pro Bono Panel-Trial Bar, U. S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois and Will County Pro Bono Advocates. Finally, like with his coaching of youth wrestling in his community, he was also a boys’ baseball coach, a member of his church’s Administration Council, a member of the Executive Board of Frankfort Township Central Committee and recognized for service to the Will County Board. Clearly, a man for all seasons – a man who understands the concepts of “giving back” and “paying it forward.”
In his own words, the kindly and humble public servant and judge talks about his ethnic background: “I was born and raised in Chicago Heights until I was fourteen years of age and have fond memories of Mt. Carmel grade school and mass at the legendary San Rocco Church, both on the famous “hill.” The judge is two thirds Marchigiano and one third Calabrese, but he is sad to say he never met relatives in his homeland. His son, Carmen Rossi, an individual making his own place in the community (e.g., recently appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the significant Landmarks Commission Board) says of his distinguished dad:
“It makes it easy to find a role model when you live under the same roof as a man who has committed every living minute of his life to his family, his career and his civic and philanthropic responsibilities. He is my best friend. “