Steve Dutner: Candidate Profile:
City: Elgin, IL
Office sought: Secretary of State
Family: Two grown stepsons
Education: A.S. with focus in Psychology and Science from Elgin Community College and B.A. in Management and Leadership from Judson University.
Civic involvement: I have been involved in politics at the local level for nearly 20 years. I have fought against tax increases, spoken at board meetings, and have been involved in activism for the betterment of my community for the majority of my life. I was formerly the Activism Director for the Libertarian Party of Illinois and have received awards for outreach and the prestigious "Activist of the Year" award that is given out every year at our convention. I am a Hanover Township Committeeman, a State Organizing Committee representative for the Libertarian Party of Illinois (representing DeKalb County), the Vice Chairman of the DuPage Libertarian Party, on the Convention Committee for our 2019 convention, and have been a member of the Fox Valley Libertarians since 1999. I have been on numerous campaign teams as a campaign coordinator. These campaigns included Julie Fox for Illinois Comptroller, Claire Ball for Illinois Comptroller, and Kent McMillen for U.S. Senate. I was also recently elected the secretary of my local Toastmasters and really enjoy speaking to an audience, whom I consider the voters of Illinois.
Elected offices held: None.
Questions & Answers
How would you streamline your office's duties to save the state money?
I want to streamline this office by privatizing driver services. Currently, 18 states have privatized at least some aspects of their DMV/driver services and report shorter wait times across the board because there is a profit incentive in place to give people good customer service -- an element missing from any government monopoly. All but one of these states report a lower cost per transaction as the result of market competition. Looking over the results of these states will help implement the correct course of action for Illinois. Shutting down government-operated driver services gradually, while allowing the Illinois Department of Transportation to absorb some of its functions, will give entrepreneurs time to set up shop and provide Illinois residents with options. Once the transition is complete, the cost of government to license drivers will be greatly reduced and certain revenue streams can be eliminated. A major part of my plan to privatize includes setting up kiosks in locations like grocery stores, libraries and colleges. Basic transactions will be automated and competing companies will cover the costs with advertising.
Describe technological efficiencies developed over the past four years. What more can be done?
Although the Cyberdrive website has also been put into a mobile application, I believe that technology is still lagging behind in the Secretary of State's office. Newer technology exists to better maintain the integrity of data kept with the Secretary of State's office. For example, air gap technology is a network security measure employed on one or more computers to ensure that a secure computer network is physically isolated from unsecured networks such as the ... internet. In other words, it keeps a documented copy offline as the original document so that this original document cannot be altered. As Secretary of State, I welcome the use of this type of technology that will protect the privacy and data kept by this office. I will also look into spearheading a cybersecurity team to address weaknesses in this area by using funds received from advertising on kiosks, vehicle registration forms and the Cyberdrive website.
What functions should the Secretary of State's Office perform that it isn't right now?
The Secretary of State's office is the largest state agency with the largest budget. This office says it is "one of the largest and most diverse collections of responsibilities of any of its counterparts nationwide." I believe we should be looking at functions to eliminate from the office rather than augment any current functions of this office.
As a challenger, what in your background makes you qualified for this specialized office? As the incumbent, what makes you the stronger candidate?
Throughout my career, I have honed my management, leadership, sales, multi-tasking and record-keeping skills. I have also worked on fraud investigations involving credit card transactions, which provides me with the unique skill set needed to problem solve.
What should Illinois be doing to make the roads safer?
I believe that the physical condition of the roads directly correlates to the safety of the roads. As Secretary of State, I will make sure that safety issues on the road are always a top priority for me. However, since road maintenance is the responsibility of the Illinois Department of Transportation, I would like to see tolls used more efficiently, more clarity of language in union contracts and new options explored for higher quality and longer-lasting road materials.
Illinois rolled out new license plates in the last year. How well did that go, and could things have been done differently?
The aesthetic of the new Illinois plate has been criticized and has been described as a product resulting from design-by-committee. For example, Lincoln's head is cropped, the "Illinois" portion of the license plate is hidden if the plate has a frame around it, and lettering on the plate is difficult to read. The new design was created internally within the Secretary of State's office. Designs for the new Illinois plate should have been solicited from Illinois artists and then put to a vote by Illinoisans. This would have given people more of a voice and a feeling that they were more of an active participant in their own government.
Should fees be raised to pay for infrastructure upgrades? If so, which ones and by how much?
Absolutely not. I will work with the Department of Legislative Affairs to ensure fees for this office do not go up through the General Assembly. However, I do recognize that in order to bring the Secretary of State's computer systems into the 21st century, infrastructure upgrades are necessary. To cover the cost of infrastructure upgrades, renewal cards and advertising space will be on the Cyberdrive Web page and mailed materials. However, House Bill 394 limits who can advertise. We need to open this up to other industries that are important in Illinois. Recently, the Libertarian Party Comptroller Candidate Claire Ball won a case allowing the medical marijuana industry to donate to campaigns. Medical marijuana is legal in Illinois and full legalization of marijuana is right around the corner. Legitimate businesses should be able to advertise.
I will also look into cutting costs by eliminating redundancies in the office. For example, the Secretary of State Police functions will be reduced where there is redundancy with the other 10 state police organizations. Additionally, I will be supporting legislation to remove the front license plate requirement, resulting in an estimated savings of approximately $800,000. These, and other methods of cost reduction, will allow me to cut down on fees for drivers elsewhere.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
The Secretary of State's Office is responsible for investigating identity theft. Traveling around Illinois, citizens have told me their concerns over protecting their privacy. They saw Equifax get hacked and are worried for their own protection. Identity theft is still happening in the Secretary of State's office. Communication between the Secretary of State and other offices has been very faulty, inaccurate and inefficient. Information doesn't match between offices and it is making things even more difficult for residents of Illinois who are trying to change/update their information. We need to ask ourselves why we need to record our information with various offices in Illinois. I would like to see one entity record the information and then other offices can download that information from that entity. This will keep things more efficient and less costly to the citizens of Illinois.
Identity theft is a very personal issue for me. Earlier in the campaign, my campaign email was hacked and a racist email was sent from this email account to Mr. White. The Secretary of State police showed up at my house to investigate. These officers were very kind and compassionate to me, but were told to close the case the very next day. I asked them why they couldn't investigate this fraud and identity theft further and they told me they just didn't have the resource. The Secretary of State's office already spends a lot of money on this issue. Why isn't this money used more efficiently and effectively?
In addition, here a few questions meant to provide more personal insight into you as a person:
What's the hardest decision you ever had to make?
In college, I initially had the goal of becoming a doctor and going to medical school. However, I was in the process of getting married and was doing quite well in my career as a manager. Due to these reasons, and other financial limitations, I decided to continue in that career path and settle down.
Who is your hero?
My hero is my paternal grandpa. From an early age, he encouraged me to think outside the box, question everything I had been taught, and to open my mind up to new ideas. Coming from an otherwise conservative upbringing, he provided a new liberal, freethinking perspective that I didn't get anywhere else.
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
The First Amendment to the Constitution is the most important to me because freedom of speech is paramount in a country claiming to be as free as the United States.
Freedom of speech opens up the marketplace of ideas, regardless of whether or not we agree with the message or not. In countries without free speech, you will also find limitations on other freedoms. As a Libertarian, I believe in all your freedoms, all the time.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
Learning personal responsibility, whether it came to managing my finances or learning that my actions have consequences. I was taught to always treat others with kindness and respect no matter how different they are from me. My upbringing taught to question authority and to problem solve by thinking outside the box.
Think back to a time you failed at something. What did you learn from it?
In my early years of activism, I tried to protect a family from losing their house due to eminent domain in Lake Zurich. They were one of the final surviving houses before developers leveled structures to build condominiums. After writing to the village board, and protesting on behalf of the family, the village went through the eminent domain process. From this experience, I learned that achieving change is not always linear. It can take years of perseverance. After seeing such a loss to the family, I made the decision to never stop fighting for justice.