John Milhiser: 2022 candidate for Illinois Secretary of State
Office sought: Secretary of State
Occupation: Attorney, currently teaching high school
Previous offices held: Sangamon County State's Attorney, United States Attorney for the Central District of Illinois
What personal background and experiences particularly qualify you for the role of secretary of state?
I am a career prosecutor, who has spent most of the last 25 years investigating and prosecuting violent crime and corruption. I have managed large offices and know what it takes to provide efficient, effective service. I established partnerships across communities to keep our streets safe. The Secretary of State needs to be a public servant, not a career politician. I've spent my career working for the betterment of my community. I have served as the Sangamon County State's Attorney, as U.S. Attorney for the 46 counties in the Central District of Illinois, and as a teacher in Springfield. Seeing students who have lost faith in government after decades of self-serving career politicians led me to run for this office. The place where most Illinoisans will interact with state government is through the Secretary of State's office, and my record proves I can root out corruption, modernize the office to protect taxpayer money, and provide efficient, effective service to all 102 counties.
How efficiently do you think the Secretary of State's office operates currently? What, if anything, would you do to streamline the office?
I grew up in a military family, moving across the country and overseas. My dad was transferred to Scott Air Force Base in Belleville in 1993, which brought me to Illinois. Visiting the Secretary of State's office is nearly identical now to what it was then. The most important thing we can do in the office is modernize and simplify processes so every Illinoisan can have a positive experience visiting the Secretary of State's office. This will have wide-ranging impacts. For example, I've spoken with law enforcement who told me that the information they receive through the Secretary of State's office when they run a license plate or a driver's license is some of the most limited in the nation. We can change that with up-to-date systems and data management which will assist law enforcement and improve public safety.
Are there enough branch offices in Chicago, the suburbs and downstate?
We need to modernize technology both on-line and in person which will impact the way the office provides services. The goal of the Secretary of State's office is to provide efficient, effective services to every citizen in all 102 counties. We need to make sure that there are offices reachable for every Illinoisan, and we need to make sure that those doors remain open.
How would you rate customer service at secretary of state branch offices? If it needs improvements, how would you make them?
The biggest improvement we can make to customer service through the Secretary of State's office is accessibility, starting with the website. We need to maximize services that can be provided safely on-line. We need to streamline the technology the office utilizes, making it simpler for people to know exactly what they need to have with them when they walk through the doors. Instead of forcing Illinoisans to comb through information to find the one thing they need, we need to bring the information to them through a streamlined search function.
Are you satisfied with the rate of organ donation? Is this an appropriate initiative for the secretary of state? Should the office do more to promote the practice?
Our state has done a good job promoting organ donation, but we can always strive to do more. Given its broad footprint across the state, I certainly believe the Secretary of State's office is a fitting place to promote this initiative. On a personal note, my sister-in-law is living with an auto-immune disease of her liver and the only long-term treatment is an organ transplant. I have seen firsthand the importance of organ donation and believe that an effective way to increase participation is sharing the inspiring stories of those whose lives have been saved through organ donation and reminding the public of the large number of their fellow Illinoisans who are waiting for an organ transplant.