- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Both major-party candidates for lieutenant governor like the fact that 2014 marks the first Illinois election where the tickets ran as a team in the primary.

“I will be working as Bruce Rauner’s partner,” said Republican candidate Evelyn Sanguinetti, a lawyer and a member of the Wheaton City Council since 2011. She said, if elected, she would step into roles the lieutenant governor already plays, including chairing the state’s Rural Affairs Council and working to enhance the state’s river systems and downtowns.

“Aside from that, I will be working at the behest of the governor,” Sanguinetti said in an interview with The State Journal-Register.

That would include doing “whatever he needs to have me do as far as touring the state and reporting back to the governor as far as what I’m seeing with regard to agencies and where there is excess or whether there is not enough in way of manpower,” she said.

“I look forward to doing that,” Sanguinetti said. “And as a former assistant attorney general, I’ve counseled a lot of units of government, so I feel very comfortable stepping into that role.”

Paul Vallas, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools who also ran school districts in three other states, was Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s choice. Vallas also is a former Illinois Senate staffer who headed the legislature’s Springfield-based economic forecasting arm.

“I really see myself as part of the governor’s office,” Vallas said of the role he would play if elected. “I like to think that the governor brought me in, besides the fact that he’s known me for 30 years, because of my expertise in financial planning, because of my expertise and track record in public policy, and because of my track record in accountability.”

He said he sees himself helping implement Quinn’s budget plan and considers himself a problem solver. He said “troubled situations” he’s been brought into include Chicago Public Schools, which he took over in 1995 when budget problems and a possible teachers strike loomed.

“I’ve negotiated five . collective bargaining agreements, and I’ve never had a strike,” he said of his school leadership experiences.

Vallas also was in the Illinois National Guard for 13 years.

_____

‘The sidewalk lady’

Sanguinetti said she was practicing and teaching law and had no political ambitions for herself when, in 2007, she slipped on black ice on the way to a commuter train station near her Wheaton home. She landed on her head and had “big-time injuries,” she said, requiring surgery, titanium screws in her neck, and a long period of wearing a brace. She said that event ultimately led her to sue the city and run for office.

She won her seat on the city council in 2011, and “proper maintenance of heavily traversed sidewalks” was a key goal.

“They call me the sidewalk lady because they all know my story in Wheaton,” she said.

She said she lost about 40 percent of her neck’s range of motion, and people sometimes think she’s rude because she can’t easily turn her neck to look at them.

“I think my medical bills reached a million dollars,” she said, adding that she was covered by health insurance. She said the lawsuit against the city wasn’t about money, but to urge provision of basic services.

The settlement from the city for her lawsuit was $2,134, her campaign confirmed, and Sanguinetti said she donated the settlement to support U.S. troops.

As for qualifications to be governor if needed, Sanguinetti said she is “a full-time mom, daughter of immigrant parents that grew up in great poverty” and a Latina who also has “a great education” and experience as an assistant attorney general and on the city council helping make Wheaton a “triple-A rated community.”

She has also toured the state “to empower women” as a vice president of the Illinois Federation of Republican Women.

“I don’t have your typical career political insider resume, but I’m certainly very accomplished and have the necessary education to be able to meet whatever goals Bruce has in our administration,” Sanguinetti said.

_____

Government experience

Vallas, who first came to Springfield to work for then-Senate President Phil Rock, D-Oak Park, said he has already been in charge of large governments, including the Chicago Public Schools, which had a budget of more than $4 billion.

The other school districts he has overseen include his stint in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as well as time in Philadelphia and Bridgeport, Connecticut. He also said he’s been to Haiti about 35 times and worked with the Inter-American Development Bank to develop a plan to rebuild schools in that country following an earthquake. He did similar work in Chile after an earthquake there, he said.

“I’ve managed government institutions effectively, but I’ve also demonstrated the capacity to . go into a situation where you have serious financial crises and programmatic failure and, in effect, reverse things,” Vallas said.

Both Sanguinetti and Vallas said the lieutenant governor’s office should continue to exist - especially now that gubernatorial candidates pick their running mates.

Vallas is now a consultant for DSI Civic, a firm involved in government restructuring and reorganization. The CEO of DSI is Bill Brandt, who Quinn appointed chairman of the Illinois Finance Authority. That was among political connections leading the Rauner campaign to label Vallas’ landing the job a “Blagojevich-style move.”

“Bill Brandt doesn’t do any business in the state of Illinois - none,” Vallas said. He said the job of helping struggling institutions and governments is something that is “tailor-made” for his experience.

Vallas has promoted expansion of charter schools in his school posts, but he said that doesn’t put him at odds with Quinn.

“We believe that while we’ve supported the expansion of charters in the past, our position is that you’re not going to . solve the problems that education faces through charter schools,” Vallas said. “You’ve got to invest in your traditional public schools to be effective.”

Vallas said he supports abortion rights, and he supported gay marriage as early as 2001, when he began campaigning for the following year’s Democratic primary for governor, a race during which he says he “warned people about Rod Blagojevich.”

Quinn also supports abortion rights, and he signed same-sex marriage into law. Vallas said he thinks the state has “gone pretty far” in making it legal to use marijuana for medical purposes, and he’s not yet ready to call for decriminalization of all use of the drug.

“It’s something worth exploring, but we don’t have a position on it,” he said.

_____

‘No social agenda’

Sanguinetti said medical tests she had following her 2007 accident revealed that she has multiple sclerosis.

“I’ve been on drug therapy ever since, and I haven’t skipped a beat,” she said.

Rauner at one point in the campaign said he would have vetoed the medical marijuana law because he objected to the “secret process” the state was using to pick people involved in the business.

“It’s one of the areas where we respectfully differ,” Sanguinetti said. She said her neurologist has told her that people with bad enough cases of MS are “suffering” and “in pain.”

“I’m no one to tell them they cannot feel relief,” Sanguinetti said.

She is anti-abortion, noting that her mother, a refugee from Cuba, and her father, who came to America from Ecuador, were teenagers when she was born.

“I was a child raised by children,” she said.

She also believes in “traditional marriage” between a man and a woman, but she said “the law is the law” and she will follow it.

Rauner supports abortion rights, backing parental notification in the case of younger mothers, and has said he is OK with the same-sex marriage law.

Any differences will not hinder their team, Sanguinetti said, “because Bruce and I have no social agenda whatsoever.”

“Our agenda is purely fiscal. . We will not look to change existing law, but we will change the fiscal way in which the state is run. That is all,” she said.

Alexander Cummings of West Peoria, who is on the Libertarian ticket, is also on the Nov. 4 ballot for lieutenant governor.?

___

Source: The (Springfield) State Journal-Register, http://bit.ly/ZP1K34

___

Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide