Election rundown: city clerk candidates

By Heather McGraw

Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle is leaving office after four years to run for mayor, which leaves the position open to new candidates with new ideas.

The two candidates vying for the job are Illinois State Representative Susana Mendoza and Commissioner Patricia Horton of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

The city clerk is essentially the record keeper for the city of Chicago, according to Kristine Williams, spokeswoman for the city clerk’s office. The clerk is responsible for maintaining and housing anything introduced or passed through City Council and selling vehicle stickers and parking permits.

“One thing Clerk del Valle did during his four years was post everything from 1981 on the website to increase transparency,” Williams said.

According to her, the new clerk will need a progressive and open mind.

“The office always needs somebody who is a visionary, who isn’t afraid to modernize and reform and look for new ways of doing things,” she said.

The Chronicle: What is your plan for vehicle stickers?

Patricia Horton: We could reduce that sticker down to about $20–$25. It would encourage those people who register their vehicle outside the municipalities … to purchase a sticker here in Chicago, therefore, we can have everybody registered here.

Susana A. Mendoza: One of the proposals I had was to allow for advertising on the back of the vehicle city stickers … [we could] allow for corporate advertising, of course with reasonable limitations and parameters, but we could potentially raise $15 million in new revenue.

The Chronicle: What is your plan for parking permits?

PH: I propose we make three more permits. One for the medical district, either the hospitals or the caregivers … another for small businesses because the small businesses as we know are the movers and shakers of the city of Chicago [and] of this economy. They need to deal with the business of their customers [who] live in these permit parking areas … and [one for] the service providers.

SM: One of the things I need to do, assuming we win, is to sit down with the aldermen and go over what their concerns are regarding residential parking. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done with it, and I’m looking forward to hearing everybody’s ideas.

The Chronicle: How large is your staff and what is your campaign budget?

PH: I don’t have a paid staff in place. I work like grass roots. I have money coming in on a continuous basis. I’m counting off the top of my head, but we’re maybe at about $20,000 or something. I have commitments of about $200,000 or more.

SM: We only have four paid staffers. Everybody else we have in is in a volunteer capacity. We have about $250,000 on hand, and then we have about $400,000 in outstanding pledges.

The Chronicle: What do you think voters need to know about the Office of city clerk?

PH: I think the voters need to know the city clerk office is their office, and it’s an office where they need to be treated with respect. They need to know what’s going on and that it has an open door policy so they can understand and know and be educated on the ordinances put forth.

SM: It’s an office created by the state Legislature to be fully independent of the mayor’s office and serve as a checks and balances to the mayor’s office. That is something we have not seen in [more than] 20 years. I’m very excited about the opportunity to run as a choice for voters in this next election as a candidate who has made a decision to not seek the endorsement or the financial support of any of the mayoral candidates.