We backed Susana Mendoza for Illinois comptroller two years ago based on her energy, ideas, and record of speaking truth to power.
As comptroller, the Chicago Democrat and former state lawmaker has delivered on every score. She’s done the latter with particular relish in her battles with GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner — who, it should be said, has contributed equally to the rancor between the pair.
In spite of that, she’s found a bipartisan path to increase fiscal accountability and transparency in Illinois government. Highlights include the Debt Transparency Act that now requires state agencies to report to the comptroller each month all outstanding unpaid bills, including the cost of late payments and interest penalties. Her Truth in Hiring Act requires that the governor’s budget include all staff salaries instead of hiding them in other state agency budgets. That’s a bad practice that has been employed for years by governors from both parties.
Mendoza says she’s running to build on those and other accomplishments.
First, she must overcome qualified, experienced GOP challenger Darlene Senger. Mendoza also will have to convince voters to support her even though she has yet to say whether she will run for Chicago mayor. Senger has made an issue of Mendoza’s failure to commit to the comptroller’s job. “I’m not running for mayor; I’ll be there to serve the people of Illinois,” Senger promised us.
While we, too, are uncomfortable with Mendoza’s failure to rule out a mayoral run, we cannot in good conscience refuse to support anyone’s effort to win a job they believe is better for them — whether it’s in the private or public sector.
We recognize, however, that it is a pivotal issue to many voters who worry that, if Mendoza is elected mayor, she will surrender the comptroller job in May when the new Chicago mayor is seated. If so, it would be the second time in three years that a vacancy occurred in that office. The last one came in 2015 after the tragic death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka shortly after her re-election.
Fortunately, voters frustrated by Mendoza toying with a Chicago run will find a good choice in Senger, a former state representative and Naperville City Council member, who also served two years as Rauner’s deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs.
Senger holds a degree in finance from Purdue University and an MBA from DePaul University. Her financial experience includes overseeing a department of financial analysts and serving as chief financial officer of the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Among her goals is to increase automation of the comptroller’s office.
Senger also wants to merge the offices of comptroller and treasurer. Mendoza doesn’t, and points to the history of corruption in Illinois as the reason to keep them separate.
She is free to disagree with Illinoisans, including us, who believe modern technology and a careful reorganization that protects accountability and security will save a bit of money. But more importantly, it would remove an unnecessary layer of Illinois government.
But we hope that Mendoza will not actively work to keep the final decision about the merger out of the hands of Illinois voters, where it belongs.
In the end, we believe neither Mendoza’s opposition to a merger, nor her consideration of a new job before she wins this one, negate the longterm good she’s done for Illinois in her short time in office.
She says that she still has more to do to help make Illinois more fiscally responsible. Importantly, she also promises that she won’t be afraid to speak up and work for the good of taxpayers, no matter whether the next governor is current foe Rauner or Democrat J.B. Pritzker, whom she supports.
She’s earned the opportunity to prove it.
Mendoza is endorsed.