Our endorsement: White for secretary of state
During his run for a fourth term as Secretary of State four years ago, Jesse White told us that if he won it would be his last term.
Now, at 80, he is running for a fifth term.
Normally, we'd question that sort of reversal. But given White's strong record of getting behind important causes -- his tough stance on drunken driving, his push for stronger training and oversight of young drivers, his continued use of technology during this term to improve efficiency and customer service -- we'll overlook it this once.
But this will be our final endorsement of him.
Republican challenger Mike Webster, a school board president in Darien, concedes that White has done great things along the lines of combating DUI, employing Breathalyzers for DUI offenders and the organ donor program. His gripe is primarily with what he sees as a business-unfriendly environment in the office's business services division; the size of the White's staff -- roughly 3,700 -- and some of the lesser-known duties he feels should be eliminated (Secretary of State's police force) or part of someone else's purview (serving as chief librarian for the state.)
He also cites the length of time for some approvals and the occasional high cost of some fees. But the General Assembly makes the rules on business license fees and such, so it's not White's fault that, for example, setting up an LLC in Illinois carries a $500 fee.
While we agree there is always room for efficiency through technology, White has done a good job of controlling costs -- keeping his budget the same each year for his current term in office by keeping staff numbers down -- while improving on customer service at the many suburban facilities he's opened.
Webster ran for attorney general, until he learned that Lisa Madigan would seek re-election to that office instead of governor. Seeing a formidable challenge, he dropped out. One must wonder why he is running against White, who is by all accounts Illinois' favorite politician. Webster has done little campaigning.
White has done a remarkable job in restoring integrity to an office wracked with scandal under George Ryan. He's kept up with the times. And he's taken steps to make the roadways and young drivers safer.
White deserves another four years.