RACE: Secretary of State

About the Candidate

Name: Alexi Giannoulias
DOB: March 16, 1976
Occupation: Founder and CEO, Annoula Ventures
Political Experience: Illinois State Treasurer (2007-2011); Chairman of the Illinois Community College System (2011-2015); Chicago Public Library Board of Directors (2018-2021)
Website: www.alexiforus.com
Twitter: @Giannoulias
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlexiGiannoulias/
Instagram: @alexiforus

Candidate Statement

Hi, I’m Alexi Giannoulias, and I’m running for Illinois Secretary of State.

After more than two decades, Secretary Jesse White is stepping down, and I aim to continue his legacy of ethical government and true public service.

As right-wing Secretaries of State across the country seek to implement voter suppression laws designed to disenfranchise voters in other states, I'll protect voter rights and expand registration opportunities to ensure Illinois voters are heard.

I’ll also modernize the office to repeal the Time Tax – or the amount of time wasted waiting in lines or on the phone for simple government services.

My Skip the Line program will allow you to schedule in-office appointments and head to the front of the line when you walk into a driver’s license facility.

In addition, I’ll push for digital driver’s licenses so you can access your ID on your phone with the touch of a button.

And as the State’s librarian, my License to Read program will allow you to access more books and learning materials from public libraries – regardless of where you live.

Finally, the Secretary of State is the keeper of financial disclosure forms that public officials and lobbyists are required to file.

In the wake of scandals involving indicted former House Speaker Mike Madigan and other politicians, I’ll advance measures to curb corruption, increase transparency and make a real difference in restoring trust and confidence in our government and elected officials.

As a former Illinois State Treasurer who successfully ran against the political machine with the support of my friend Barack Obama, I eliminated pay-to-play in the office on my first day on the job.

My integrity and commitment to serve is why more than 200 elected Democrats, labor organizations and grassroots groups –including moderates and progressives alike – including Congressmen Chuy Garcia, Bobby Rush and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, have endorsed my candidacy.

I have the experience, the know-how and the dedication to build a better future for all Illinoisans, and I hope to earn your vote on June 28th.

Thank you!

Candidate Q&A

Why are you running?

I feel strongly that we need to repair the broken relationship between government and the people who feel alienated and estranged by the status quo. The Secretary of State’s office is the state’s largest government agency that has more of a direct impact on the daily lives of Illinoisans than any other office.

By modernizing the office to increase access to services and providing more opportunities for more people through innovative programs, protecting voter rights and increasing opportunities to register to vote, and strengthening state ethics laws and requiring more disclosure among public officials and lobbyists – we can help restore that faith and confidence in government and their elected officials.

What does this office do well, and what needs fixing?

The State of Illinois owes Secretary Jesse White a tremendous debt of gratitude for his work in cleaning up a Secretary of State’s office that was plagued by scandal and political corruption from the previous administration. Under his leadership, Secretary White has modernized many aspects of the office, bringing business services online and implementing the Real ID program statewide.

However, there is more we can do to build upon Secretary White’s legacy and update services to make them more accessible for all Illinoisans. The Secretary of State acts as a retail operation and improving the customer experience and providing more services remotely so people can avoid an in-person trip to the office are my top priorities.

As Secretary of State, I will implement my “Skip the Line program,” which will allow Illinoisans to move to the front of the line when visiting facilities by making an appointment online or over the phone. This will reduce wait times significantly and eliminate the Time Tax, or the amount of time people spend waiting in lines or on the phone for government services.

In addition, I plan to provide the option of obtaining services digitally through an app and allowing customers to upload documents ahead of their appointments. This will reduce the need to make in-person visits to obtain services and decrease their time at each facility if they do. The app will also notify drivers to receive about license renewals, vehicle registration updates and appointments to avoid fees and get questions answered quickly.

I will also plan to push for legislation allowing for a digital driver’s license/ID program so Illinoisans can carry their identification on their phones, which will make it easier for them to update information without having to make a special trip to the office.

What is the most pressing issue facing your constituents and how do you plan on addressing it?

In addition to modernizing the office and making more services and programs accessible online, we need to restore Illinoisans’ trust and confidence in our government and elected officials. Given the controversies and scandals dominating headlines in Illinois for the past several years, we need to strengthen our ethics laws to curb corruption. The Secretary of State is the keeper of lobbyist registrations and statements of economic interest, or financial disclosure statements that public officials file with the state. I’m the only candidate running for Secretary of State who has put forth an ethics plan requiring more disclosure of these documents, tougher restrictions that prohibit elected officials from serving as lobbyists, more authority given to the Inspector General to investigate wrongdoing and extending the time before former lawmakers are allowed to lobby. This ethics package, aimed at preventing future abuse, has been hailed by good government advocates.

In addition, with Republican Secretaries of State also implementing new voting suppression laws throughout the country aimed at disenfranchising voters, we need to protect those rights and expand opportunities to register to vote here in Illinois. As a custodian of the state’s Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) system, I plan to make a technical change that would create a “back-end” system, similar to other state like Massachusetts and Colorado. What this would mean is that a voter does not need to take any additional steps to register to vote when visiting a facility. This will lead to increased efficiencies and result in higher registration rates by ensuring that registering to vote at a facility is as quick and effortless as possible. I will also advocate for a pre-registration program for 16- and 17-year-olds so young people are automatically registered to vote as soon as they turn 18.

Also, as the state’s librarian, I will implement a universal License to Read program to improve access to libraries, add educational programs, provide more digital services online and find new ways to bring more people together, especially in communities that need those services most.

Unfortunately, the pandemic revealed stark differences in the digital divide that must be narrowed to improve access and equity throughout the state. Our program would also encourage more sharing of resources and materials between libraries and expand after-school activities for students who need additional help with their homework or tutoring.

What specific steps would you take to ensure your office is accessible and responsive to your constituents?

Along with implementing the “Skip the Line” program to allow people to jump to the front of the line and launch an app for obtaining services remotely and using digital driver’s licenses to make digital identification practical, I would assign office advocates who would help visitors to facilities to obtain the services they need more easily. I plan to offer more assistance online, over the phone or in person, especially for seniors, those who don’t speak English and for others who need special assistance. I will also guarantee neighborhood access by making more Secretary of State’s office programs and support available at pop-up offices and local libraries in Chicago and throughout the state. I’ve also responded with the proposals below based on needs and concerns:

Cracking Down on Scam Artists. The Securities Division in the Secretary of State’s Office regulates the investment industry in Illinois, investigating complaints of fraud and registering brokers. I will add more resources and increase the number of investigators, auditors and examiners and enhance financial literacy programs to protect everyday investors from those who prey on them and try to steal their savings.

Enhancing Business Services. I will strengthen the Secretary of State’s Business Services Division to make it easier for minority-owned business owners to start a business and cut through the layers of red-tape, which will reduce costs and get them up and running more quickly and enable them to hire workers.

Easing the Burden on those who Can Least Afford It. I will support legislation that prohibits the state and municipalities from suspending the driver’s licenses of drivers who fail to pay parking tickets and other fines, which was signed into law last year. The suspensions disproportionately affect low-income drivers who need their cars to get to work to earn a living.

Creating Opportunities for Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses. By executive order, I will require that the Secretary of State’s office adhere to Illinois’ Business Enterprise Program (BEP) and expand opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses to enter into contracts with the State.

Developing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan. I will develop an inclusive culture that includes more decision making, opportunity and innovation while encouraging more input from workers. I intend to hold the office accountable and show tangible results on an annual basis by issuing an annual report.

Hiring a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. This individual would play a critical role in shaping the public service workforce and how the office interacts with customers while optimizing organizational culture and aligning diversity and inclusion goals.