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Mexican Mutual honors Lorain former councilman, bailiff, and veteran, Fred Lozano as he retires

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Corespondent

LORAIN: Fred Lozano, Lorain resident of Puerto Rican descent with an 18-year public service career, was honored at the Mexican Mutual Society July 19, 2009 after retiring from his latest position as Lorain Municipal Court bailiff.

He is one of Lorain’s longest serving public official.

Fred Lozano

“I was very fortunate,” Lozano said “I left with a good feeling. I left believing I made a difference in the Hispanic community. It was the right time to leave,” he said, adding he left the places open for other young Latinos to fill.

Joel Arredondo, president of the Mexican Mutual and Lorain City Council president, described Lozano as “a very giving person with an impressive resume.” Arredondo said he grew up playing ball with Lozano. “We want to keep his legacy going,” Arredondo said. “Anyone who devotes his time to public service is a special kind of person.”

Lozano retired as a bailiff for Lorain Municipal Court Judge Thomas Elwell April 30, 2009, after serving there for almost four years. Before that, he served 14 years on Lorain City Council as a 6th ward and then at-large city councilman, and four years with the Lorain Civil Service Commission. He worked as a custodian for Lorain city schools for one year, while serving on Lorain City Council.

Lozano, born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, joined the U.S. military after high school, where he served as a Marine for four years. He also served in the Vietnam War and ended his military career in Cuba.

Lozano was also a former president of Lorain's Puerto Rican Home and founded its annual Boricua Festival, he said.

Lozano's friends, family and prominent local people gathered to congratulate him on his career at the retirement party.

The attendees included Lorain Police chief Cel Rivera, Lorain City School Board member Jim Smith, and President of the Puerto Rican Home Club Juan A. Silva.

Guests were treated to typical Mexican dishes of tamales, arroz con habichuelas, pastelillos, and tacos, while Mariachi music and even music from Alejandro Fernández could be heard in the background.

While some gathered on picnic tables nibbling on cherries or smoking cigars on the side yard, others surrounded the bar while a soccer game played on the big TV screen.

Patty D’Orazio, who worked as an administrative assistant in the same court as Lozano, said Lozano knew how to keep the court in order while serving as bailiff. “He was able to calmly and diplomatically get the defendant who was out of hand, to calm down,” she said.

Lozano said he learned so much about the Latinos’ struggle while working as bailiff.

“That opened my eyes to the plight of Hispanics,” Lozano said “Many did not speak English, and some think what happens around them doesn't affect them but it does,” he said.

Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said Lozano “puts the interests for the city as a whole above his own.”

But long before Lozano began his public service career, he worked for the Lorain steel mills at Lorain Tubular. But those days still bring back unpleasant memories for Lozano. After the steel mill plant was purchased by two new companies that went bankrupt, he lost almost all his pension, like thousands of other workers, Lozano said.

Longtime friend of Lozano George Koury, Fred Lozano, Lorain Police Chief Cel Rivera, Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will, Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo and in the back Mexican Mutual and City Council President Joel Arredondo.

“I was bitter,” Lozano said “I had 31 years (working at the steel plant) and had nothing to show for it. But I think it shined a light on how vulnerable pensions are,” he said.

Lozano said he is fortunate that throughout his public service career, he was able to recover what he lost and has an even bigger pension today.

A controversial comment by Lozano in 2002 in which he said “now you know why I don't like white people,” at the end of a city council meeting, prompted some councilmembers to say the comment was racist and inappropriate. But Lozano said the comment was a joke told to his friends and not his true beliefs.

He shares his life with Yolanda Fernandez and has a 36-year-old daughter, a 34-year-old son and two grandchildren from a previous marriage.

When asked about his future plans, Lozano said he wants to spend time with his family.

“I just want to enjoy getting up every morning when I feel like getting up,” Lozano said “I love to work with my hands. You see me working in the garage and in my garden. I like to go to the gym and workout to control my diabetes with exercise” he said.

Lozano, 62, may be ready to walk away from the public's eye but the guests at the party reiterated their admiration for his public service.

Jose Ramirez, president of the Hispanic Fund and owner of La Sala nightclub, said he also grew up with Lozano. “He's a leader and he's passionate about what's right,” Ramirez said.

Diana Wilete, who works in Sen. Sherrod Brown's office, said she has known Lozano for over 20 years.

“He's a leader. He's humble and passionate about the people,” Wilete said “He's given so much to the community,” she said.

Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo said “Fred Lozano has the biggest heart and loves the city of Lorain like very few people do.”





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