SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, a Democrat, is facing Republican challenger Shannon Teresi in the Nov. 8 general election.
Both candidates ran uncontested in their primaries June 28 and got 100% of their party’s votes. Mendoza received 838,155 votes. Teresi received 666,835 votes.
The comptroller’s main duties include maintaining the state’s fiscal accounts, ordering payments into the treasury and issuing warrants against any funds held by the treasurer.
Who are the candidates?
Mendoza, 50, of Chicago was elected comptroller in a special election in 2016 to serve the rest of Republican Judy Baar Topinka’s term as Illinois comptroller. In that special election Mendozareceived 49.5% of the vote over Republican Leslie Munger’s 44.4%. Baar, a Republican, died Dec. 9, 2014. Munger had been appointed comptroller by Gov. Bruce Rauner after Topinka’s death.
Mendoza was re-elected November 2018, gaining 60% of the vote over Republican Darlene Senger.
Mendoza was Chicago City Clerk from 2011 to 2016 and served as a state representative from 2001-2011. A graduate of Truman State University with a B.A. in business administration, she has a husband, David, and a son, David.
Teresi, 38, of Crystal Lake has been McHenry County Auditor since 2018 and worked in the office as financial reporting manager/chief deputy auditor and internal auditor prior to that. Her political experience includes McHenry County Auditor and Republican Precinct Committeeman.
Teresi earned a master’s degree in accounting from Northern Illinois University and began her career as an associate at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2007. She joined McHenry County government in 2016 as a financial reporting manager before being elected county auditor in 2018. She has a husband, Ross, and two sons, Chase and Luke.
Where do they stand on the issues?
Editor’s Note: These responses were submitted in May, before the primary.
What policies would you push for to prevent a backlog of unpaid bills?
Teresi: “The state’s liabilities have overall significantly increased under Gov. Pritzker and Mendoza. They have taken on more loans to pay unpaid bills, so they have provided no real reform. It is like paying one credit card, but taking out five more. They have used federal dollars to address their mismanagement vs. impacting taxpayers’ day-to-day lives. We are walking off a financial cliff, which Moody’s warned could happen with a recession.
“My record shows that I have put systems in place in McHenry County to pay the bills on time, be transparent about what is being paid, and cutting out corrupt practices leading to wasted taxpayer dollars.”
Mendoza: “My policy of methodically paying down the bills over the past six years is restoring Illinois’ financial reputation and helped earn Illinois six credit upgrades, the first in 20 years after eight credit downgrades under the previous administration.
“I kept paying down those bills and that state now has an accounts payable representing the cost of doing business of just under $3 billion. The best way to prevent another bill backlog is to re-elect the comptroller that paid it down in the first place.
What would you do to add transparency and accessibility of state financial records to Illinois residents?
Mendoza: “You can look at the policies I have enacted over the past six years — a transparency revolution. I advocated tirelessly to successfully override Gov. Rauner’s veto of my landmark Debt Transparency Act, the most significant reform bill in the history of the comptroller’s office. … My Truth in Budgeting Act requires governors to address in their budget proposals how they will pay down state debt. … Transparency and accessibility have been top priorities of mine since taking office, and they will continue to be moving forward.”
Teresi: “Illinois’ consistently late financial reports need to be addressed. We are in the 11th month since the end of FY2021 and the Comptroller’s office still has yet to release the ACFR. In states with strong financial leadership, those reports are released in their entirety within six months. … We can’t stand by and say ‘that’s the way it’s always been’ when Illinois remains one of the highest taxed states in the country, has the worst credit rating in the country, and continues to spend more than we take in.”
Should Illinois combine the treasurer and comptroller offices?
Teresi: “Saving the Illinois taxpayer money is paramount, and I stand with my fellow candidate Tom Demmer (for treasurer) who proposed combining the two offices earlier this year. During my time as McHenry County auditor, I’ve proven that systems can be put in place to protect the independence of offices responsible for stewardship of taxpayer dollars.”
Mendoza: “No. There are very good reasons the drafters of Illinois’ 1970 Constitution created the comptroller and treasurer as independent offices to serve as a check and balance on each other and the governor’s office to safeguard Illinois’ financial interests.”
A look at financial filings in this race shows a disparity. The incumbent Mendoza had $1 million in campaign funds to start the third quarter July 1 compared to Teresi’s $17,170. By the end of the quarter on Sept. 30, both candidates saw their balances grow to $1.4 million for Mendoza and $26,223 for Teresi.
For the July-September quarter, Mendoza received $623,005 in contributions and spent $184,042. Mendoza had 150 itemized expenditures, mostly for campaign promotional items and mileage. The largest amount spent by Mendoza was $48,500 to Global Strategy Group, LLC (New York) for polling. That single expense was more than all of Teresi’s spending for the quarter.
Teresi’s D-2 campaign report for July 1-Sept. 30 shows the challenger received $38,252 and spent $29,199. She had 13 expenses for the quarter, with the highest amount being seven payments totaling $18,730 to campaign staff member Evan Allen.
Where’s the money coming from?
As with the campaign finance, a look at contributors differentiates the two candidates for comptroller. Teresi had five contributions and only one of those was larger than $1,000. Teresi had a $20,000 contribution from P.O. Box 284 (Aurora).
Mendoza, on the other hand, had 13 contributions of more than $10,000 each. Most of those were tied to unions and political action committees.
Mendoza received the following contributions:
• $60,900 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers IBEW Illinois PAC (Washington DC)
• $59,900 Illinois Federation of Teachers COPE (Westmont)
• $59,000 Laborers; Political League Great Lakes Region (Chicago)
• $59,900 LiUNA Chicago Laborer’s district (Burr Ridge)
• $59,900 UFCW Locals 1546 Political Action Committee (Des Plaines)
• $30,000 Illinois Laborer’s Legislative Committee (Springfield)
• $25,000 UAW Illinois Political Action Committee (Lincolnshire)
• $10,000 from AFSCME Illinois Council 31 (Springfield)
• $10,000 AFT Local 604 COPE II (Crest Hill)
• $10,000 Finishing Trades of Chicago Coop. PAC (Chicago)
• $10,000 Illinois Trial Lawyers Association PAC (Springfield)
• $10,000 Plumbers & Pipefitters (Bloomington)
• $10,000 Prairie Political Action Committee (Washington DC)
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October 25, 2022 at 07:25AM