The son of an Italian immigrant bricklayer and an Iowa schoolteacher, Michael Cabonargi knows that our community only works when everyone has an opportunity to succeed. His father came to Waukegan with little more than the clothes on his back and the change in his pocket, and he found full-time employment in the service industry. He met his wife, Francine, while managing the dining room at a local club.
They worked hard their entire lives to ensure that Mike and his brother had a roof over their heads and a good education. Mike worked hard to become the second person in his family to go to college, securing enrollment at Miami University of Ohio. It was there, long before he would become an attorney and elected official, that Mike discovered his passion for advocacy. He and a small group of likeminded students fought to change the county laws so that his school could donate unused food to the needy in their community.
After college, Mike chose public service, working as an economic policy advisor to Senator Paul Simon. His positive impact on Illinois families was significant enough that Senator Dick Durbin asked him to stay on and ensure that his office always put Illinois families first. Inspired by the power of people to make positive change through the law, Mike went on to attend the University of Illinois College of Law, where he received his JD with honors.
Mike went on to clerk for a federal judge right here in Chicago. He instituted the first pro se litigant legal clinic for those who opted to represent themselves in court, giving much needed resources to residents seeking access to our justice system. His clinic remains in use today, more than twenty years later.
Mike left the courthouse for private practice before returning to public service as a senior attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission, where he worked to prosecute companies and individuals who preyed upon our seniors and families. During his time there, he oversaw the largest fine in SEC history, recouping millions of dollars for families who had lost their hard-earned money.
In 2011, Mike was appointed to and later successfully ran for the Cook County Board of Review, where he has ensured that our schools and recreation facilities are fully funded and that Cook County families pay only their fair share in property taxes, and not a penny more. He has held information and review sessions in neighborhoods across the county so working families who were unable to travel all the way to the county building could have their taxes reassessed and reduced.
Mike is an active member in our community, where he and his wife, Erin, are raising their sons, William and Jack. Mike is the advancement chair for Boy Scout troop 5, who are about to graduate the first girl in troop history to advance to Eagle Scout.