Front Page Article
"Jesse White, Secretary of State of Illinois" by Joyce Geiler
Jesse White, a Democrat, has been Illinois Secretary of State since being elected in 1998. He is the longest-serving and the first African American to hold this position. After discussing the far-reaching duties of Illinois’ Secretary of State, this article will discuss the man who holds that office.
A Look at the Office:
The Secretary of State is one of the six elected executive officials in Illinois. As the second biggest established office of the state, the Secretary of State of Illinois keeps up one of the nation’s biggest databases that contains information on a huge number of business elements. Primarily, the Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing the corporate division and the business division of the state. Hence, the task of registering new business entities with the state of Illinois as well as keeping track of any commercial activity of those businesses headquartered in the state falls under this category. The department is responsible for the regulation of the securities industry in Illinois and protection of investors by ensuring compliance with the law and investigating any complaints of fraud or improper practices.
Besides enrolling corporations, lobbyists and public accountants, this office is likewise responsible for issuing licenses to Illinois-enlisted vehicles and drivers. Illinois is one of only two states to put the secretary of State in charge of drier services, the other being Michigan. Enforcement of these duties has made the Secretary of State's office a key bureau in the enforcement of driving-under-the-influence or DUI laws. The Illinois State Police Department and the Capitol Police Department lie under the jurisdiction with the Secretary of State.
In addition, the Secretary of State is the Illinois state librarian and is the custodian of the Illinois State Capitol. The office keeps the state’s official records, law, library, Great Seal of the state and archives. The Secretary of State comes at par with the Governor in terms of responsibilities and seniority in the state.
The duties of the Secretary of State’s office are divided among 20 departments employing approximately 4,000 people. The Office of the Secretary of State occupies three buildings of the Illinois Capitol Complex in Springfield, Illinois. Many of the Secretary of State's workers assigned to motor vehicle and licensing duties work in the Howlett Building, south of the Capitol. The Illinois State Library is located in the Brooks Library, east of the Capitol, and the State Archives are housed in the Norton Building, southwest of the Capitol. Read more here.
A Look at the Office:
Jesse White was born in Alton, IL in 1934. In 1943, he moved with his parents to Chicago. In high school, he was an all-city baseball and basketball player. Upon his father’s insistence, White attended and graduated from Alabama State College. Before he could enter the sports arena, he was drafted and served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army followed by Illinois National Guard duty. Later, he continued in sports and was eventually inducted into three different Halls of Fame. He founded the Jesse White Tumbling Team to serve as a positive alternative for children residing in the Chicago area. He had a 33-year career with the Chicago Public Schools system as a teacher and administrator.
White was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1974 where he served for 16 years. Among the bills proposed by White in the House was the Good Samaritan Bill, which allowed hotels to offer leftover food to soup kitchens without threat of liability. He was elected Recorder of Deeds of Cook County, where he served until being elected Secretary of State. In recent years he has also served as Democratic Committeeman of Chicago's 27th Ward.
Jesse White’s record of achievements as Secretary of State may explain why he has been overwhelmingly re-elected for the past 20 years. In 1999, White inherited an office under a cloud of corruption from George H. Ryan and pledged to restore integrity and eliminate all forms of institutionalized corruption and wrongdoing. Some key efforts included: establishing a code of conduct for employees, setting strict fundraising policies that prohibit employee contributions, and initiating legislation to make the position of Inspector General permanent with broad powers to root out corruption.
In January 2009, White gained national attention for his decision to not certify Roland Burris' nomination to the United States Senate following corruption charges against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. White refused to co-sign a certificate of appointment for any appointee named by Gov. Blagojevich, who was arrested in part for trying to sell this very same senate seat. Although Burris filed a lawsuit against White with the Illinois Supreme Court to compel him to certify the appointment as part of his routine administrative duties, the Court ruled that White did not have to sign his name to any appointment made by Gov. Blagojevich. The Court further ruled that White had fulfilled his legal obligations regarding the appointment of Burris to the U.S. Senate by registering the appointment in accordance with state law. The document registered did not include White's signature or the State Seal, and the U.S. Senate officially seated Burris as Illinois’ junior senator anyway.
White has been an advocate on traffic safety issues. In 2007, he initiated teen driver safety legislation giving Illinois one of the top-ranked graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs in the country. In the first full year of the new law, teen fatal crashes in Illinois dropped by over 40 percent. White has worked to crack down on DUI infractions by supporting legislation that requires all first-time DUI offenders who wish to obtain driving relief to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) on their vehicles. He has also worked to improve truck safety and the CDL licensing process. More information here.
White now lives on Chicago's Near North Side. He has two daughters and two grandchildren. One of Jesse White’s interns shares in his blog: “On a more personal note, my first experience meeting Secretary White was enjoyable. At 84 years old, the man still has a great sense of humor and is very active. One thing I’ve noticed about him is that he has the best memory of any person I know (he truly could pick up a conversion from years prior). Mr. White also has an extremely personable character and not as bitter as one would expect from 20 years working in political environment. The most important trait from Secretary White that separates him from other politicians, however, is his passion for principled politics, organ donation, and honest belief in the betterment of individuals. I can confidently say that Mr. White has the best intentions for the state of Illinois in mind and that we, the citizens, are lucky to have him.” Learn more here.
In 1999, Jesse White was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Community. According to their website, White’s “support for lesbian and gay rights is part of supporting equal rights for all. When he became a state legislator, he backed bills against sexual-orientation discrimination and hate crimes. He continued to uphold sexual-minority rights as Cook County recorder of deeds and now does so as Illinois Secretary of State.” He was the first signer of a historic 1999 letter that eventually was signed by all the state’s constitutional officers, urging legislators to vote for House Bill 474, the proposed Human Rights Act amendment. During the 1999 legislative session, he personally called legislators to support the bill. He met with them on the floor of the House and conferred with House Speaker Michael Madigan. White pledged personal and office resources to ensure the bill’s passage, and he promised to continue work toward making Illinois discrimination-free for all its people. More information available here.
Kwame Raoul, Illinois Attorney General
Education: Home Schools
Education: Private Schools
August, 2016 .
Education: Magnet Schools
Education: Public Schools
Schools, Part 2
Criminal Justice Reform
Graduated Income Tax Revisited
Farm Subsidies: Economic Engineering
Ekklesia: Millionaires in Illinois
Ekklesia: District Map Making in Illinois
Ekklesia: Property Taxes in Illinois
Ekklesia: Broken Pension System in Illinois
Ekklesia: Fracking Revisited
Ekklesia: Media Bias
Ekklesia: Illinois Farmers
Ekklesia: A Prayer Strategy for Illinois Schools
Ekklesia: Feeding the Poor
Ekklesia: The Seven Mountains of culture and the Five-Fold Ministry of the Church
Ekklesia: Turn Around Agenda for Illinois
Christian Entertainment in Illinois
Tribute to Pastor Steve Barr
Christian Charities in Illinois
Christian Colleges in Illinois
Illinois Prayer under the Direction of Stan and Delbra Pratt
Franklin Graham and the Samaritan's Purse
October , 2015.
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