Republicans see opening in secretary of state race
By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – For the first time in nearly a quarter century, there is an open race for the office of Illinois secretary of state as incumbent Democrat Jesse White prepares to retire, and Republicans hope that will give them an opportunity to pick up a statewide elected office.
It’s often said that more people interact with the secretary of state’s office than any other department in state government, except perhaps the Department of Revenue.
The office is primarily known for administering motor vehicle services – drivers licenses and vehicle registrations – but it reaches far beyond that. The Illinois secretary of state is also the state librarian, which provides services to public libraries throughout the state. It is also manages the state archives, serves as the state’s official recordkeeper, administers lobbying laws and operates its own police force.
John Milhiser, a former state and federal prosecutor from Springfield, and Dan Brady, a longtime state representative and assistant minority leader from Bloomington, are vying in the upcoming June 28 primary for the chance to carry the GOP banner into the general election.
Milhiser, 52, is part of a “slate” of candidates endorsed by billionaire businessman Ken Griffin. But Brady, 60, has been leading in recent polls, although a large block of likely GOP voters remained undecided.
Both candidates have made the fight against corruption a major theme in their campaigns. But even though the last major corruption scandal in the secretary of state’s office happened during the last Republican administration, they argue that it’s relevant throughout Illinois politics.
“Yeah, Democrats don’t have a monopoly on corruption in Illinois,” Milhiser said in a phone interview. “And when you look at the history of corruption in the secretary of state’s office, it is Republicans, it is Democrats. But unfortunately, you know, that corruption is in state government.”
Brady agreed, saying “unfortunately, anything corrupt is labeled as Springfield. Not, per se, the secretary of state’s office, but the perception is across government itself.”
He said as secretary of state he would like to have a policy of open doors and “sunshine on everything.”
Brady is a funeral director by profession and a partner in the funeral home firm Kibler-Brady-Ruestman. He served as McLean County coroner from 1992 until he was elected to the Illinois House in 2000.
“I believe my background certainly gives me a distinct advantage of experience when it comes to county government where I served as county coroner and worked with the secretary of state’s office in particular on organ tissue donation issues,” Brady said.
If elected, Brady said he would like to overhaul and upgrade technology in the office to reduce wait times in the driver services area and he would like to see all driver facilities in the state fully staffed.
Milhiser served as U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois from 2018 to 2021. Before that, he was the Sangamon County state’s attorney for 16 years. Today, he teaches high school government, history and English at an adult education center in Springfield.
“As Secretary of State, you have to wear many different hats and operate in many different lanes, which I have throughout my career,” he said. “And not only have I prosecuted cases in state court … but I also have executive experience managing a state court prosecutor’s office as the Sangamon County state’s attorney, working with law enforcement, working with community groups, setting up partnerships to run that office, working with the county board, working with a budget, hiring and firing people. So that executive experience is key.”
He, too, said he wants to upgrade technology in the office and improve its online services. He also said he wants to improve adult literacy services that are funded with grants from the state library to local public libraries.
One of the most contentious issues facing the state, which is certain to carry over to the next administration, concerns electric vehicle manufacturers and the question of whether they should be allowed to sell new vehicles directly to consumers.
Under Illinois law, new motor vehicles can only be sold through franchised dealers, and vehicle manufacturers are prohibited from operating such a dealership. In recent years, however, electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla, Rivian and Lucid have begun selling their vehicles directly to consumers over the internet.
Last year, the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association filed a lawsuit seeking to enforce that law and prevent manufacturers from selling directly to consumers. That case is still pending in Cook County Circuit Court.
Asked whether he thinks the statutes need to be updated, or if the manufacturers should change their business model, Milhiser said he thinks it’s an unsettled question.
“I will tell you, I’ve had conversations with the Automobile Dealers Association and that is definitely something that we need to continue to talk about. And one big reason is, we need to make sure we protect the consumers. So if you have these entities coming in that don’t have the service and they don’t have the support, we need to make sure that the consumers are protected. And that’s a conversation we for sure need to have moving forward.”
Brady, meanwhile, said he will wait to see how the court rules in the case, but that he thinks the law is being applied unfairly.
“I believe that there needs to be a level playing field for our existing automobile dealers that are here in this state,” he said. “The law needs to be applied evenly and fairly.”
He said if legislation needs to be amended, all stakeholders should be at the table.
“I don’t believe from the knowledge of what I have of what was done and how … that law was applied was fair when it comes to our existing Automobile Dealers Association,” he said. “So it’s seems to me that it was interpreted and applied in an unfair manner.”
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Football: Previously winless Sandburg takes down defending champ Lockport
By Randy Whalen Correspondent A season ago, Sandburg turned its season around after a big loss to Lockport. This year, the Eagles hope their season has turned around after a big win over the Porters. Sandburg was winless coming into the SouthWest Suburban Blue matchup against the defending Class 8A state champions, but pummeled the…
Area sports roundup: No drama here, St. Rita grad Hopkins named Mustangs football coach
By Jeff Vorva Staff writer There will be no drama waiting to see who the will coach St. Rita’s football team in 2023. Even though there are four weeks to go in the 2022 regular season, the school last week named Martin Hopkins the successor to Todd Kuska. Kuska, in his 25th season as the…
Football: Evergreen Park edges Reavis in SSC Red
By Steve Millar Correspondent The back-and-forth battle waged against Reavis in Week 5 was the kind of game for which Evergreen Park prepares. It provided the Mustangs a chance to test how they would respond in an intense situation. They passed the test. “Resilience was the key,” Evergreen Park coach Jerry Verde said after the…
Football: York hands Lyons first loss of season
By Steve Metsch Correspondent Lyons’ bid for a fifth win and to essentially clinch a playoff spot was put on hold by York and junior running back Jake Melion. Melion, thrust into the RB1 role because of an injury to starter Kelly Watson, ran for three touchdowns in a 27-14 win for the Dukes. Lions…
Palos 118’s West Elementary named National Blue Ribbon School
Palos West Elementary School in Palos Consolidated School District 118 has been named a National Blue Ribbon School award winner by the U.S. Department of Education. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona made the announcement on September 16. “This is a moment of extreme pride for us here in District 118,” said Supt. Dr. Anthony…
Palos Park Woman’s Club turns 120
The Palos Park Woman’s Club officially turned 120 years old on August 21, 2022. A celebration was held on that day at the Palos Park Rec Center with approximately 100 people in attendance including members, local dignitaries, family and friends. The Village of Palos Park recently proclaimed August 21 through September 17 as Palos Park…
Northwestern College holds summer pinning ceremony
Northwestern College’s Violet L. Schumacher School of Nursing held a Pinning Ceremony for its Summer Quarter Nursing graduates on September 8. The ceremony was conducted at the Oak Lawn Public Library’s lower-level conference room, a new location following the college’s recent move from Bridgeview to Oak Lawn. The traditional ceremony marks the formal induction of…
Join the Polish American Cultural Club Meetings of the Polish American Cultural Club are held on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at American Legion Post 1941, 900 S. La Grange Road, La Grange. Dues are $20 per year for individual membership and $35 for a family membership. The mission of our…
9th annual Halloween run at Moraine Valley
Grab a costume, dress up the kids and head to the ninth annual Halloween 5K run/walk and Kid’s Dash on Saturday, Oct. 29, 9 a.m., at Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills. Participants can walk or run the officially timed 5K (3.1 mile) path throughout campus. The Kid’s Dash will start…
Pigskin Wrap: Lincoln-Way West blanks Stagg as Chargers go 0-for-Lincoln-Way
By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Stagg had just been beaten 36-0 by Lincoln-Way West in a SouthWest Suburban Red matchup in Palos Hills. It was the third consecutive game against a Lincoln-Way team. It was the third consecutive loss. And in this unholy trinity of games, the Chargers were outscored 126-3. Coach Colt Nero is…
City expands security-camera program
Free cams available for the poor From staff reports The City’s Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC) has announced the launch of a new Income-Based Application that allows Chicagoans to obtain outdoor security devices, based on income. The expansion builds on what officials call the success of the Home and Business Protection Rebate Application, which helps…
Is the pandemic over?
Not so fast, city Health Dept. seems to say From staff reports While both public health and political commentators assessed the accuracy of President Joe Biden’s recent proclamation that the pandemic is over, the Chicago Department of Public Health appears to be saying, not so fast. “The pandemic is over. We still have a problem…
A labor of love
Stained glass entry glows with inspiration at St. Richard Church By Tim Hadac For many years, the north wall of St. Richard Church offered parishioners inside a distracting view of 50th Street. These days, it offers a glimpse into eternal salvation. The clear glass in the windows and doors of the church’s main entrance…
St. Francis of Assisi in Orland Park to Host Blue Mass on Sunday
Hundreds of police officers, firefighters, emergency services personnel and their families are expected to attend the annual Blue Mass at noon on Sunday, Sept. 25, at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Orland Park. Hosted by St. Francis of Assisi Parish and the Knights of Columbus Council 16369, the Blue Mass is a Catholic tradition…
‘That’s more like it’
Neighbors praise police for confronting rowdy crowds By Tim Hadac A year ago, crowds of Mexican Independence Day revelers trashed Pulaski Road—mostly between the Stevenson Expressway and Archer Avenue. In 2022, the partiers were back, but this time they appeared to be met by a more robust and coordinated police response—much to the satisfaction of…
Father Tom’s welcome lives on
By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Back in the June 10 edition of the Greater Southwest News-Herald, we talked about the passing of the Rev. Tom Mescall, who would become the last pastor of St. Adrian Parish before it was combined with Queen of…
The Mechs are making a difference
By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Every day we hear about the crime going on in the area, like shootings, carjackings, drag racing, theft, battery, house and garage break-ins and catalytic converter thefts. These crimes are so discouraging to hear about. Well, here’s some good news. Long time…
Central Park looking brighter than ever
By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Murals make neighborhoods beautiful, adding color and art to plain walls. So, I took a dog walk towards Central Park to visit the status of the murals on both 58th and 59th Streets. Robert Valadez and his…
Spirited soccer struggle in Scottsdale
After several tries over several years, a soccer squad put together by the Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch defeated a Chicago Police Department team in a match at Durkin Park. SNW President Jason Huff said while the victory was sweet, both sides actually won, because the purpose of the match was to draw police and the community…