Full Name: Anna Valencia
What office are you seeking? Secretary of State
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Chicago City Clerk
Occupation: Chicago City Clerk
Education: B.S. - International Studies - University of Illinois
Campaign Website: www.voteannavalencia.com
Illinois has had the same secretary of state for more than two decades. How would you assess the state of the Illinois Secretary of State’s office?
Secretary Jesse White has made great strides in modernizing the office, making services more accessible, and leading the office through the pandemic. As Secretary of State I would continue to build upon his legacy. The pandemic has shown us there are upgrades we can make to our systems to better serve Illinoisans now and into the future. With federal infrastructure dollars coming into Illinois, we have a once-in-a- generation opportunity to begin to make some of those upgrades, including broadband access in our public buildings, but in order to do so, we need someone to succeed Secretary White who knows how to maximize those resources and put them to good use. I have demonstrated my ability to effectively modernize government systems in my role as City Clerk of Chicago, including most recently instituting electronic voting on the City Council. As Secretary of State, I plan to build on the progress Secretary White has made to ensure we serve all Illinois residents as effectively and efficiently as possible. I’m honored to have Secretary White’s endorsement in this race and excited to get to work and continue modernizing our government.
What do you view as the main role of the Illinois secretary of state?
The Secretary of State and staff are public servants first and foremost. In fact, it is the largest employer of public servants in the state and is often the primary government entity people know. Most of those contact points come from the DMV, local libraries are small business resources. Going forward, we need to explore opportunities to provide additional services from other government entities that might not be as well known.
During the pandemic, the secretary of state’s office was closed for long periods of time. Wait times have been astronomical. What will you do to make going to the secretary of state’s office less painful?
Shortening wait times at the DMV will be my top priority as Secretary of State. Secretary White deserves credit for his work during the height of the pandemic, instituting appointments and other options to shorten wait times. I will continue those efforts and build on them to reduce wait times. I plan to create an online portal and payment systems for DMV services, streamlining and simplifying online services. Illinoisans will be able to conduct each of these transactions online and receive new and updated documents through the mail. I will work to develop a phone app that allows access to the DMV’s online portal, includes multi-lingual services for non-English speaking communities and allows residents to upload their driver’s license. I will also explore what works in other states and what options are available to reduce wait times. I am proud of the work my team has done to shorten the lines in the City Clerk’s office, and I am confident we can do the same in SOS offices.
What will you do to modernize the office?
I recently released a detailed plan to build on Secretary White’s legacy and continue the process of modernizing the Secretary of State’s office to make it more efficient and user- friendly for Illinois families.
That plan includes creating a DMV online payment portal to streamline and simplify online services. Illinoisans will be able to conduct each of these transactions online and receive new and updated documents through the mail. I will also work to develop a phone app that allows access to the DMV’s online portal, includes multi-lingual services for non-English speaking communities and allows residents to upload their driver’s license.
I also plan to Implement blockchain solutions to protect our data. Blockchain has many benefits that allow for safer and faster transactions, encryption that makes it extremely difficult for hackers to corrupt, and allows for the tracking of real-time records which limits fraud.
The Secretary of State also has the honor of being the state’s Chief Librarian. I plan to update our library infrastructure and make sure our library system is delivering for Illinoisans in the 21st century by expanding “Makers Labs” into libraries across the state and increasing innovation grants to make additional modernized improvements.
I will work to electrify our infrastructure by turning our state buildings into WiFi beacons. This will allow residents living or working nearby to access free internet.
I also plan to create a one-stop-shop online portal that will create one electronic file per person, so Illinoisans can visit the Secretary of State’s web portal, enter their password, and conduct all their business on one personalized, secure webpage. This one-stop-shop initiative will make transactions with the office quick and easy.
Finally, I want to make the Secretary of State’s office more eco-friendly. I will expand upon Secretary White’s eco-friendly efforts, including efforts to encourage Illinoisans to sign up for online vehicle registration renewal reminder notices instead of receiving postcard reminders each year in the mail.
I’m proud of how we’ve been able to make the City of Chicago more accessible and transparent to our residents, such as through electronic voting and other proven initiatives, and I look forward to bringing the same types of bold and innovative ideas to the Secretary of State’s office to better serves citizens across Illinois.
What do you think of Illinois’ current license plates? As secretary of state, would you seek to redesign Illinois’ license plates? As secretary of state, would you look to put more LLC and corporation information online?
License plates are first and foremost a public safety tool. The technology used to interact with those license plates has changed dramatically since the last redesign. I would be open to exploring new options, but I would speak with public safety experts before making any decisions.
What will be your top legislative priorities during your term, and why?
Although the Secretary of State’s office does not have the power to make laws, I plan to work with legislators and support policies that create a more modern, equitable and accessible government. I have already begun these conversations with a number of legislators. With so much at stake right now across the country, one key area I will focus on is voter accessibility and improved access to the ballot box. On day one after taking office, I plan to assemble a coalition of passionate leaders, the Illinois Board of Elections, legislators, county clerks and other stakeholders to create a Voter Access Commission focused on creating policies aimed at strengthening Illinois’ current voting laws.