On Wednesday, in the opulence of a chandeliered room at the University of Louisville Alumni Club, former US Representative Romano Mazzoli gave a free talk at his alma mater. A Louisville native with 24 years experience in Congress, Mazzoli touched on international and local politics, as well as a short personal history.
Mazzoli said he was “pre-disposed to do immigration work” during his time in office. He is the child of German and Italian immigrants, who ran a tile company out of the basement of the family home.
“I’ll never forget, sitting in the dining room, and total strangers would parade through the dining room, and my dad would lead them to our bathroom to show the tile work he could do for them,” he said.
In Congress, Mazzoli and Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming wrote the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which became law in 1986.
The former Representative filled the room with laughter and connected with the audience. Part of his talk became a roll call, where he showed his appreciation for various audience members.
Mazzoli told a story about a man named John, who thanked the former Representative for helping him get a job at the post office. After forty years and a successful career, John is now enjoying retirement.
“This is what politics should be about,” Mazzoli said.
Next, Mazzoli addressed international topics such as the conflict in Ukraine, bankruptcy in Greece and ISIS in Iraq.
Mazzoli had no reservations about stating his point of view. Speaking about the recent visit to Congress by Israeli President Netanyahu, Mazzoli said, “With all due respect as a leader of the nation of Israel, he showed high disregard and disrespect for our President.”
Mazzoli was also highly complimentary of Mayor Fischer’s initiative of the new Code Louisville, a free software coding training program.
After speaking for nearly an hour, Mazzoli concluded with a question and answer session.
The speech was the 2014-15 Phi Beta Kappa lecture at the University of Louisville.