If re-elected, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, 76, says this will his final term in public office, capping a 34-year career in state politics.
First, he'll have to defeat Republican challenger Robert Enriquez of Aurora and Libertarian challenger Josh Hanson of Naperville in the Nov. 2 election.
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White was a state representative from 1976 to 1992 and Cook County recorder of deeds from 1992 to 1998. He has been secretary of state for the past 12 years, during which time he says he's modernized and streamlined the office, improved customer service and made Illinois' roads safer through tougher penalties on drunk drivers and a stricter graduated license program for teens.
This month, White's office issued a report showing teen auto fatalities were down by more than 50 percent since the program began.
"This is my last tour of duty," says White, a former military paratrooper who also is well known for his Jesse White Tumblers, a group he formed in 1959. "When we walk away, we want to say we've done our job for the people and we've done it well."
If elected to a final term, White vows to continue his efforts to weed out the corruption that infiltrated the office when he took over for George Ryan.
White's challengers are both political newcomers.
Enriquez is a 53-year-old father of four from Aurora who owns a translating and workplace development business. He vows to create 2,000 private-sector jobs to create a database that police could use to see if drivers have active car insurance. If police pulled over someone who didn't have insurance, the driver's car would be impounded and he or she would be issued a ticket.
"It's the right thing to do," Enriquez said.
He also wants to shrink the size of the secretary of state's office, lower vehicle sticker fees, slash the cost of forming an LLC, and conduct a forensic audit "to find out where the money has been going to all these years."
Hanson, who is married and works for a communications company, strongly opposes the government collecting taxes and redistributing the money, saying it has a poor and unethical track record in financial management.
"I believe money should be left in the community where it belongs, where individuals can make the best use of it as they see fit," he said in a Daily Herald candidate questionnaire.
Hanson doesn't believe any public servant should receive a pension. He proposes limiting the dollar amount in pension payouts.
"There's no excuse for the taxpayers to be on the hook for this," he said.