On Sept. 4, Republican Jason Helland appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Watch the video above to find out why he’s running for election as Illinois secretary of state.
The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates running for secretary of state a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois. Helland submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
What will be your priorities as secretary of state?
Helland: In Delaware, you can go online and receive all of your paperwork to incorporate on the same day. You cannot do this in Illinois. With more than 375,000 corporations in Illinois, we need to be able to have mandatory e-filing of all documents online. This will reduce jobs and increase efficiency.
You should never be required to call or mail the SOS for an answer. For criminal prosecutions, restricted driving permits should be immediately accessible in order for prosecutors to more quickly file charges. White fails to implement these technologies because it would reduce jobs. With today’s technology, a potential prosecution should not be delayed because we need to mail a request for information to the SOS and wait to act until we receive the official documents from the SOS in the mail.
I would be compliant with the Federal Real ID Act. White has failed to comply with federal law for 13 years. If I was not compliant with federal law for 13 years, I would expect to lose my job. White should expect to lose his job. It is ridiculous that you need a passport to go to a military base in Illinois because IL is not Real ID Act compliant. The rubber is going to meet the road when we are required to have a passport to fly from Chicago all the way to Milwaukee. Once the government refuses to give the SOS another extension, consumers are going to be outraged.
I would give accurate budget numbers to the general assembly. The SOS materially misstated their financial position by $340,000,000 one year. I would initiate voter integrity initiatives like the Missouri SOS. With automatic voter registration and visitor’s driver’s licenses, I fear that those who are not legally within the United States are being allowed to vote. You should be required to show a form of identification in order to vote. Poll watchers are very concerned about the integrity of our elections and who can blame them? The General Assembly needs to pass a law to require a potential voter to produce a form of identification before voting.
Actually make corrections based on audit findings. The SOS office should not have multiple employees on cash drawers. The audit report makes this finding every year and the SOS office fails to correct this every year.
The IL Attorney General’s Office prides itself in protecting consumers. However, the SOS has had an audit finding that they failed to follow industry standards in processing credit card information; as a result, nearly 4,000,000 consumers had their information breached. Unlike private corporations, the SOS failed to warn their consumers that their credit card information was breached and the consumer’s information could have easily been sold on the dark web.
Roll back the fees for license plates on vehicles and commercial trucks. Illinois is not small business friendly and small trucking businesses can operate more profitably in neighboring states due to Illinois high fees.
I will ensure that CDL driving tests are uniform. I have had drivers who work for school bus companies that train driver and take them to their CDL driving test worry about the safety of our precious cargo on school buses. The CDL test is not performed in a uniform manner and the tests vary from testor to testor. This cannot happen. The SOS employees must have a clear direction on how the tests must be administered.
I believe that Constitutional Officers should be term limited to 2 terms. It is clear when the Illinois Constitution of 1970 was adopted that the drafters did not adequately foresee the problems of not having term limits.
I would lead by example and address the sexual harassment epidemic of Springfield head on. With thousands of employees, there is sexual harassment in the workplace and too many employees do not report it because they fear the repercussions of reporting it. Sexual harassment needs to be reduced and I lead by example. The current incumbent has failed to lead. It is obvious with the resignation of Mike Madigan’s chief of staff Tim Mapes and the Lou Lang situation that his must be a priority and thousands of employees cannot work in a hostile work environment.
There must be lobbyist oversight. The SOS requires lobbyists to register with the SOS. Other than that, there is no oversight of lobbyists. Have we ever seen a lobbyist get banned from lobbing in the State of Illinois? There needs to be a way of disciplining lobbyists.
The SOS has failed to file UCC filing annual reports to the Governor and the General Assembly for 2 consecutive years. Complying with the law is not an option and we must be compliant.
I will not hire family members.
Who is Jason Helland?
He’s running for: Illinois Secretary of State
His political/civic background: Elected Grundy County State’s Attorney 2012, 2016.
His occupation: Grundy County State’s Attorney
His education: BA Political Science, JD John Marshall Law School
Campaign website: jasonhelland.com
Illinois continues to struggle with massive debt and unfunded pension liabilities. How will you trim expenses in the office of secretary of state?
Helland: The SOS must embrace technology in order to reduce jobs. Moving more services to a cyberdrive app will allow far more flexibility of payment and more and more consumers will find using mobile based point of service easier and more relabel than paper. This would vastly reduce the number of people entering the DMV offices and allow downsizing and reductions in the brick and mortar locations. This also reduces the number of employees over time.
I would not hire thieves like Marlene Liss and Candace Wanzo. When you hire criminals, you have terrible results.
I will streamline the LLC registry services and eliminate the need for all allocations to be mailed into the office. Other states such as Delaware have done exactly this and have greatly improved speed, accuracy, and delivery of service.
What more might be done to reduce the incidence of drunk driving in Illinois?
Helland: I would aggressively oppose the legalization of marijuana in the name of traffic safety. I personally was a victim of a drunk and drugged driver and want to make sure that our roads are as safe as possible. Law enforcement and current technology is not adequately trained to handle DUI drug cases. Jesse White has endorsed JB Pritzker who approved of the legalization of Marijuana, so Jesse must approve of the legalization also. Doing so will increase the drugged DUI arrests and traffic crashes by nearly 50% as has happened in states like Colorado.
A more recent threat to safety on our roads is distracted driving. Drivers who are on the phone or texting are causing accidents. What can be done about it?
Helland: The distracted driving laws currently on the books require officers to observe the offense and most of the infractions can actually cause crashes where responding officers show u as a result of the distracted driving resulting in a crash. I would encourage the legislation to reflect the distraction, not just the cellphone use.
Two major automakers, Toyota of Japan and Audi of German, have requested federal permission to use “adaptive beam” headlights — the standard in Europe — to improve the ability of drivers to see at night. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been sitting on the request for four years. Do you favor adaptive beam headlights, and as Illinois secretary of state would you advocate for them?
Helland: Absolutely. Significant increases in safety devices and improvements to driving safety should be embraced. The costs of the devices have been greatly reduced over the years since they were introduced.
Do you believe that the Secretary of State police are necessary? Please explain.
Helland: The SOS Police are the regulatory and enforcement arm of the office and should remain active. Vehicle theft cases as well as road rules regulation are imperative to the effectiveness of the office. I would assure the officers are engaged and very active.
Do you, or would you, accept campaign contributions from secretary of state employees, contractors or suppliers?
Helland: I would absolutely insist that all employees never be allowed to donate to the SOS campaigns and would insist that I will not make the office that Mike Madigan department of patronage jobs as it currently is. The first thing Jesse White did when he became Secretary of State was to hire his daughter as a high level administrator. That won’t happen when I am elected.
QUESTION: What’s the biggest difference, relevant to the running of this office, between you and your opponent?
Helland: I am of sound mind and memory and want to do the job. White is the longest serving SOS in the history of the State and has no intention on completing this term if elected. A vote for White is a vote for Madigan’s appointment. In addition, I am the only candidate that has the health to do this vigorous job. I have traveled all over the State for the past year with no guarantees because I believe that the future for my 5 year old daughter is not bright unless I do something to change it. I am also ethical and will hire the best and most intelligent staff to surround myself with. I will not engage in ghost payrolling. I will not hire convicted felons to important positions and then put them on paid administrative leave for 14 months after they steal from the SOS.
Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.