Full Name: John Milhiser
What office are you seeking? Illinois Secretary of State
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Sangamon County State’s Attorney
United States Attorney for the Central District of Illinois
City: Springfield, IL
Occupation: Attorney, currently teaching high school
Education: Juris Doctor, 1997 - University of Illinois College of Law, Champaign-Urbana, IL
Bachelor of Science, 1992 - James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Campaign Website: johnmilhiser.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?
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 from a customer service perspective is to 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 members of 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. Having said this, I worked closely with the Secretary of State’s Office during my time as a prosecutor and had a good working relationship. As State’s Attorney and U.S. Attorney, I partnered with federal, state, and local governments and know the benefit of these relationships. We need to make sure we expand these partnerships to all 102 counties to provide efficient, effective government services to citizens in Illinois.
What do you view as the main role of the Illinois secretary of state?
The Illinois Secretary of State must provide efficient, effective service to every citizen in all 102 counties in Illinois. That requires an executive with proven management experience. As U.S. Attorney, I led the office through the longest government shutdown in history and during the global pandemic, keeping operations running and providing essential services to the citizens in the 46 counties of the Central District of Illinois. The Secretary of State needs to be a public servant, not a career politician. People across this state have lost faith in government, and the way we can restore trust is by rooting out corruption, streamlining processes, and protecting taxpayer dollars. This starts with the place most Illinoisans will have contact with state government: at the Secretary of State’s Office.
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?
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.
What will you do to modernize the office?
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 online. 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.
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?
Before looking to redesign Illinois’ license plates, we need to focus on how license plate information is being utilized. Members of law enforcement in Illinois have told me that when entering a license plate number on a traffic stop, they receive less information than their counterparts in our neighboring states. In a state like Illinois where crime is surging, that is unacceptable, and we need to focus on getting law enforcement the information they need to do their jobs and protect our communities. Additionally, we need to maximize information that can be provided safely online, including LLC and corporation information.
What will be your top legislative priorities during your term, and why?
As Secretary of State, I will have three priorities: rooting out corruption, modernizing the Secretary of State’s office, and protecting taxpayer dollars. I’m a career prosecutor and have spent the majority of the last 25 years investigating and prosecuting crime and corruption. The only way to truly eliminate corruption in state government is to root it out from the inside, and I will work vigorously to do so. I will also call for support to modernize the office, revamping web access and streamlining the processes so we can cut down on wait times and provide efficient, effective service to all 102 counties. Lastly, doing these things will cut down on the waste of taxpayer dollars, helping relieve some of the burdensome spending that is driving our state deeper into debt.