Blue Island Mayor Fred Bilotto

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Bilotto and his wife and son at the St. Donatus fest

Fred Bilotto has only been mayor of Blue Island since April, but his involvement in public service began when he began volunteering at the Feast of St. Donatus at St. Donatus Church. Both he and his wife, Stephanie, were born in the city, and both graduated from nearby St. Xavier University. They and their three children are now involved in the feast, which has been celebrated for 116 years.

Bilotto ran for mayor because he wanted to create a more open and transparent government while addressing infrastructure issues in the aging city. “The problems weren’t created in a day, and they won’t be solved in a day,” he says. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Bilotto, whose father emigrated from Castrolibero, Calabria, believes there is strength in the city’s ethnic diversity. “From its founding in 1835, our city has undergone significant changes over the generations,” he notes. “The first wave of immigration brought mostly German-born citizens. Decades later, Italians became the majority, and in more recent years, Blue Island has become a majority Latino city.”

“While the waves of immigration came from different parts of the world, they had in common a shared experience of working families seeking to build a community and to improve the lives of their families,” he observes. “In Blue Island, our roots are deep, and our branches are strong. We’re a better city because of our diverse heritage.”

About Terry Quilico

Firefighter, caseworker, labor organizer, sailor, psychiatric aide, aircraft load planner, FedEx manager. Nothing seemed to fit until Terry Quilico stepped up to the Joliet Herald copy desk as a know-it-all college intern wannabe journalist. It was there that he found his calling. Over the years, he’s written about social and political movements, Italian cars and the Torino football club. ]He began his long association with Fra Noi while working for the Comboni Missionaries. His proudest work was with the photographers, journalists and editors who created the magnificent book, “Evviva la Festa. A Spiritual Journey from Italy to Chicago.”

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