State Journal-Register endorses Libertarian Steve Dutner for Illinois secretary of state

Steve Dutner
Steve Dutner

Illinois Libertarian Steve Dutner won the endorsement of the State Journal-Register, the daily newspaper of Springfield, the state capital. From the paper’s Oct. 17 editorial, “Opinion page endorsement: Steve Dutner for Secretary of State”:

There is no doubt that the Illinois Secretary of State’s office is run better now than it was prior to Jesse White taking the helm.

Gone are the days when the state’s residents darkly joked that they would bring sleeping bags in order to stay comfortable during the inevitable hours-long wait to get a driver’s license. Now, the facilities run by the secretary of state’s office are a model in providing excellent customer service. White has championed legislation to make the roads safer, save teenage drivers’ lives through stricter training and reduce drunk-driving crashes. Propelled by a family experience, the state’s organ donation sign-up program is robust and saving lives.

White, who took office in 1999, campaigns by pledging that his office would continue to provide great customer service and promote legislation that keeps Illinois roads safe. But we cannot in good conscience endorse White for a sixth term.

In an interview with our editorial board, White appeared unprepared, struggling to provide specifics about how he would use technology to streamline services. He repeatedly strayed off topic while responding to questions, including queries on such key issues as Real ID or Automatic Voter Registration. At times, he relied on his staff members in attendance for assistance in explaining details or the status of those major initiatives.

His re-election campaign also comes after twice vowing to not seek another term. White, 84, has made the same promise again this year, that if elected, it will be his last term in office. But trust needs to be earned, and in this area, White has broken ours.

Republican candidate Jason Helland, the state’s attorney for Grundy County, has focused too much of his campaign about White’s age instead of effectively making his case as to why he would be a better secretary of state — a misguided strategy. If you can get him to stop talking about White, Helland does bring up some potential areas of scrutiny. He contends the agency’s budget could be leaner and pledges cuts. He says the office could modernize technology, citing the paperwork businesses have to file with the state as one area that could be improved. Another improvement he would make is to ensure restricted driving permits are immediately accessible so prosecutors can more quickly file charges when warranted.

But the person who offered the most pragmatic ideas as to how to modernize and improve the secretary of state’s office is Libertarian candidate Steve Dutner.

He wants to cut down redundancies between the secretary of state’s police force and the 10 other state police agencies. He suggested getting rid of the front license plate requirement, something many other states do. These ideas have merit and demonstrate a mindset toward providing a more efficient government for taxpayers.

Dutner recognizes the need to protect the plethora of information the secretary of state’s office has on Illinois residents in order to minimize threats of identity theft. He would make the website easier to navigate and include a mobile app, as well as streamline the FOIA process for the office.

He also wants to consider contracting out driver services. That would include bringing kiosks to places like grocery stores and libraries where basic tasks — like renewing a license or a plate — can be done. We’d like to see some proof that savings can be guaranteed with such a move before we’d consider it seriously. But we like that Dutner is thinking differently about how to run an office that most Illinois residents come in contact with fairly regularly.

Dutner offers the most practical solutions that could improve and modernize the office, and comes with the least political baggage. Dutner is endorsed.

Dutner’s interview by the newpaper’s editorial board was published on Sept. 27 (“Watch and read about the candidates: Dutner vs. Helland vs. White, Illinois secretary of state”).

Learn more at Dutner’s campaign website.

Dutner is joined by five other Illinois Libertarians running for state-level office this November. Learn more about these candidates.

Nationwide, approximately 800 Libertarians are running for office this November, offering bold solutions to slash the size of government and maximize individual freedom. Learn more about these candidates.