Raj Pillai, Will County Treasurer 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Election 2024
Will County Treasurer candidate Raj Pillai

Full Name: Raj “Pi” Pillai

What office are you seeking? Will County Treasurer

What offices, if any, have you previously held? None.

City: Plainfield, IL

Occupation: Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Education: 1. Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of New York at Albany

2. Certified Public Accountancy in New York and Illinois and the requisite continuing education to maintain license.

3. Seamanship, Leadership (up to Non-Commissioned Officer), Surface Warfare (Ship Operations), Basic Firefighting, and Disbursing Clerk (Finance) Specialty Education (U.S. Navy)

4. Educated on Advanced Accounting Topics including Internal Audit, Accounting Instructor for new Staff Accountants (Ernst & Young LLP)

Campaign Website: Pending

What would be your top three priorities over the next four years?

The biggest priority would be protecting and safeguarding our Taxpayer’s money. When the government receives Taxpayer money, it still belongs to the Taxpayers, and we must ensure their money is being spent properly. I would go to every board and committee meeting where the budget or spending are discussed so I could make every board member aware of what their decisions mean for Will County Taxpayers. As a CPA, my responsibility is to protect the public, and I will extend that duty to the office of county treasurer.

I will also find ways to eliminate waste from our spending. When we eliminate waste, we can lower costs which in turns leads to lower taxes. Currently, the government reaches into our bank accounts and spends those funds without any real process or scrutiny. As an example, the County Treasurer, Executive, and Auditor all use different processing systems, many of them redundant, which means in many cases we spend three times as much when these offices could all be working and collaborating under one shared system. Duplicative and redundant processes result in more spending and larger inefficiencies, thereby allowing waste to easily slip through the cracks. I will inspect our county’s spending by comparing it to the budget. Just like a family would adjust their budget on a monthly basis if they were spending more than they were bringing in, we need a Treasurer who will utilize a similar approach to monitoring budgets more consistently.

We also need to increase transparency. Our Treasurer should be putting out easily digestible tax and spending reports on the Treasurer’s website so taxpayers can know exactly where and how their money is invested and spent. Currently, the monthly reports make little sense to the average taxpayer—in fact, they barely make sense to me, and I’m a financial expert. We can do better.

Taxes are a top concern raised by voters locally. What do you do within your position to address residents’ tax burden?

While I would not have the same voting abilities or executive powers of the County Board or Executive, there are creative ways I could help eliminate waste. Eliminating waste in our spending will inevitably lower costs, which in turn will lower taxes.

There is currently little to no accountability or tone at the top regarding prevention of waste. Taxes continue to increase for many taxpayers with little to no control on spending. Instead, as a leader, I would make it clear to our team that our goal is to find ways to reduce over-spending to prevent overburdening our taxpayers.

I would also like to explore consolidating our County’s Treasurer and Auditor positions and offices into one financial office, even if that means the position I’m running for no longer exists—because it’s about saving money for Taxpayers, even if that means I’m out of a job.

If you could redo or reverse any one decision made by the county treasurer in the last four years, what would it be and why?

This may sound small, but there were delinquency notices sent out by the treasurer which cost Taxpayers approximately $24,000. The letters sat with the postal system and ended up reaching residents many weeks after they were supposed to arrive, but because of his lack of follow through, the Treasurer was unaware and had done nothing to rectify the situation. This created a lot of confusion and concern from those who paid their taxes, then later received a delinquency notice from the county. It also caught the staff at the treasurer’s office by surprise and left them scrambling.

If our Treasurer can’t effectively manage a $24,000 mailing, how can we be sure he’s properly managing our county’s tax dollars? The treasurer needs to have a proactive mindset instead of reacting to issues. We need a leader who will hold themselves accountable to the people who elected them.

What do you bring to the table that your opponents do not?

My experience is unmatched. I’m an immigrant and Navy veteran who earned my citizenship through serving in the military and worked my way through school using the GI Bill. As an auditor, I’ve audited and provided consulting services to C-level and mid-level executives at some of the largest companies in the Chicagoland area, New York City Metro area and even around the world. By the same token, I have taken this experience to our community and as a local CPA, helped working families and small businesses manage their tax and finance burdens.

I would bring a common sense, private sector approach to the role of County Treasurer. I will strive to make sure every tax dollar is accounted for and spent wisely, because that money belongs to Will County families. I became a CPA to provide security and trust to the public and I take great honor in that responsibility. I will bring this same mindset to serving the people of Will County as their Treasurer.