Our Opinion: White, Madigan for another term
When Democrat Jesse White first was elected Illinois secretary of state in 1998, he inherited one of the most political and patronage-filled offices in the state.
Federal investigators had launched Operation Safe Road, the explosive investigation into the bribes-for-licenses scandal office that eventually toppled the political career of, among others, former Republican Gov. George Ryan, who was secretary of state during the corruption and racketeering scheme.
The secretary of state’s drivers’ license facilities were fraught with long lines. Customer service was not its strong suit. License plates, originally intended to last five years, were wearing out after 14 years of use. Employee morale was in decline, and the office desperately needed leadership.
Today, White, now 80 years old, is running for an unprecedented fifth term as secretary of state.
He has done an admirable job of streamlining and bringing order to the secretary of state’s office, as well as advocating for graduated driving laws for new, young drivers to cut down on teen driving deaths. His leadership in the wake of a troubling string of teen fatalities in 2005 and 2006 resulted in a more than 50-percent reduction in teen driving deaths in Illinois.
He also advocated for laws banning cell phone use and texting while driving in Illinois.
White has more plans for the office, including making smart phone access to secretary of state services possible in the name of efficiency and customer service, and he is convening a trucking task force to deal with crashes involving truckers and the amount of time they spend behind the wheel.
Term limits aren’t White’s thing, clearly.
“In my case, I’ve been productive, and I’ve been creative,” he told The State Journal-Register’s editorial board. “If I had not been here, some of the (services) the people of Illinois are enjoying may not have reached the surface. I raise my right hand to let you know this is my last tour of duty.”
White’s opponent, Republican Mike Webster, a lawyer and a CPA, is a well-intentioned candidate and makes good points about the need for the state of Illinois to cut red tape and make it easier for companies to conduct business here. He could offer valuable insight to those in a position to make some changes on that important front.
White is endorsed for one more term.
In addition, we endorse Democrat Lisa Madigan for a fourth term as Illinois attorney general.
Madigan is smart, competent and sticks to her duties. We’ve heard from too many candidates various plans that infringe upon or duplicate the duties of other statewide officials.
We appreciate her efforts to recoup money for the state of Illinois through various settlements on behalf of homeowners, communities and the pension systems.
She is dedicated to fighting consumer fraud and identity theft – both of which are becoming more serious problems nationwide as hackers revel in gaining access to consumers’ financial data through companies’ and banks’ computer systems.
We encourage her to be more aggressive on strengthening and enforcing the state’s Freedom of Information and Open Meetings acts, especially as local governments with shrinking manpower and budgets struggle to find ways to comply with the requirements of the laws and provide public information to taxpayers.
Her opponent, Republican Paul Schimpf of Waterloo, also an accomplished attorney, is so focused on a desire to be a corruption-busting attorney general that he seemed to forget the office has other important duties as well.