Susana Mendoza: Candidate Profile
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
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Should lawmakers be paid on time or should they be put in line for payment among all the state's unpaid bills?
At a time when social service providers are closing their doors and families are being decimated across this State due to the horrendous bill backlog, there is no way that legislators should receive preferential treatment. I believe that lawmakers should have to wait in line like everyone else. I also believe that Comptroller Munger's decision to delay lawmakers' pay came 10 months too late and conveniently right around election time. Her timing reflects actions taken more for political gain then for the benefit of the public.
Should a comptroller be more or less active in seeking court orders to pay for state programs during a budget stalemate? Should state employees get paid with no appropriation?
The Comptroller should be an independent truth-telling-fiscal watchdog that prioritizes both the fiscal and moral health of the State. Shamefully, Comptroller Munger waited for threats of contempt of court before releasing payments to the most vulnerable - developmentally disabled seniors and children. She should have invited the lawsuit in order to have the legal authority to expedite payments. As long as the courts continue to order the State to pay state employees, they must get paid, even in the absence of an appropriation. If the court order is reversed, it would be unlawful to pay state employees without an appropriation.
Should the office be merged with the treasurer? Please explain why or why not.
While not opposed, I do support the concepts behind the creation of the Comptroller's Office during the 1970 state constitutional convention. As a result of the conviction for embezzlement that occurred in the Office of the Auditor of Public Accounts under Orville Hodge in 1956, the Comptroller's Office was created in part to provide a firewall between the separate functions of investing the State's monies and paying the State's bills. An office that serves as a truth-telling independent advocate and fiscal watchdog is important for the people of Illinois, especially during times of fiscal crisis.
How would you streamline your office's duties to save the state money?
As Chicago City Clerk from 2011 to 2015, I successfully transitioned 1.3 million customers away from an inefficient seasonal Chicago City Vehicle Sticker sales program dating back 105 years, to a streamlined Year-Round-Sales program modeled after the Illinois Secretary of State's license plate program. This historic change created better customer service and millions of dollars in new revenue at lower taxpayer cost. As Comptroller, I will bring the forward thinking, results based approach to governing that I brought to the Clerk's office. The office needs to be streamlined, have more accurate tracking systems, and stronger internal controls in place
What special qualifications make you the best person to serve as state comptroller?
I have a 10 year track record of getting things done for Illinois as a State Representative. I've stood up to leaders in both parties, and have a record of working with anyone - Democrats and Republicans - to get the job done. As Chicago City Clerk, running the second largest office in the City, I've taken an office that many people said shouldn't even exist and turned it into what is now viewed as a model in government efficiency. Unlike Comptroller Munger, Governor Rauner's self proclaimed "wingman", I bring a proven independence at a time when it's needed most.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I'll work to enhance the overall internal control environment of the State, to run a more effective and efficient office. I will in concert with the Director of CMS and the Auditor General, take a fresh look at the Fiscal Control and Internal Auditing Act (FCIAA), to ensure it reflects the most current thinking on fiscal and administrative internal control guidance. The Comptroller is in a unique position to broker needed fiscal stewardship measures across the Illinois state enterprise and leverage technological advances to make it more efficient and easier to maintain accountable stewardship of and control over funds.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Malala Yousafzai. AMAZING. A girl was shot 3 times in the head in Pakistan for speaking out about education for girls. She was not silenced.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Learn from your mistakes and don't be afraid to make them.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
The day my dad unexpectedly died from a heart attack. I would have stayed home, telling him how much I loved him.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Grammer school math. I learned my times tables. You never know when you might get pop quizzed by a reporter on a hot summer day.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be the person you'd want your children to be proud of.