City clerk candidate Anna Valencia
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The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent candidates for city treasurer a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their wards. Anna Valencia submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Anna Valencia?
She’s running for: City Clerk
Her political/civic background: I come from a blue collar, middle-class family: my dad is a union painter with District Council 58 Local #120 and my mother worked for a nonprofit.
I was sworn in as Clerk of the City of Chicago in January of 2017. As City Clerk, I have worked to build a more accessible, equitable and inclusive Chicago including implementing the City’s first Municipal ID program, the Chicago CityKey, combining access to government and City services into one card for all of Chicago’s 2.7 million residents among other initiatives to increase accessibility to the many services our office has to offer.
I truly think the best public policy is made with community and those impacted by it at the table. That is why in October, we announced the Status of Women and Girls working group with the goal of creating a better Chicago for all of its young women and girls and earlier this month announced the Fines, Fees & Access Collaborative to review and reform the City’s fines and ticketing practices.
I also serve on the National Advisory Council for Accelerator for America chaired by Mayor Eric Garcetti along with labor leaders and other mayors across the United States, a nonprofit focused on strategic support to the best local initiatives to strengthen people’s economic security.
I was also recently featured on Apolitical’s list of The World’s 100 Most Influential Young People in Government and one of Business Insiders’ 8 of the Most Influential Millennial Women in U.S. Politics. I currently reside in the Tri-Taylor neighborhood with my husband and dog.
Her occupation: City Clerk of Chicago
Her education: Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Campaign website: voteannavalencia.com
The city clerk maintains city government records, handles registrations, distributes vehicle stickers and residential parking permits, and issues business licenses. What can be done to better deliver all these services?
Anna Valencia: My goal as the City Clerk of Chicago has been to be the link between the community and government. As Clerk Clerk, I along with my team are working to meet Chicagoans where they are to make city services more accessible to all Chicagoans. We’ve set up mobile offices and super sites in neighborhoods that often feel ignored. My office is also looking at an updated eCommerce platform in hopes of improving the customer experience and implementing a more affordable reduced-term City Sticker. We’re also working on a council modernization initiative and working to create templates and streamline access to council documents to both the public and Alderman. Additionally, I have made it so that all residents can now stream City Council on any device from mobile phones to ipads when previously it was only available on one platform on a desktop. Lastly, we are currently revamping the way that you’ll be able to buy our products online to create better digital accessibility and convenience.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Clerk Anna Valencia were accused of “suborning voter fraud” by a state representative for allowing Chicagoans to use their CityKey municipal identification cards when registering to vote. What’s your take on this?
Anna Valencia: The law has not changed. The law clearly states that you must meet certain age and eligibility requirements in order to register to vote. CityKey is one of the many documents, such as a FOID card or utility bill, that can be accepted by the Board of Elections to register to vote. We would never encourage anyone who doesn’t meet those requirements to register to vote.
Should the city clerk be appointed by the mayor and City Council, rather than elected? Please explain.
Anna Valencia: No. I believe that the City Clerk should remain an independently elected position to represent the voice of all Chicagoans in order to keep City Council accountable and impartial.
Two recent city clerks — Walter Kozubowski in 1993 and James Laski in 2006 — were convicted on federal corruption charges. Kozubowski took kickbacks from six “ghost payrollers.” Laski took kickbacks from city contractors. What new protections, if any, should be put in place to guard against such corruption?
Anna Valencia: In the words of Louis Brandeis, “The best disinfectant is sunlight.” Since becoming City Clerk, I’ve worked to push forward initiatives that make our government more accessible and give Chicagoans a better understanding of the services it provides. That’s why we’ve implemented initiatives like mobile livestream of City Council and Next Generation Model City Council, teaching students about the inner workings of government, and a responsive FOIA office so they can hold their elected officials accountable.
Will you or have you accepted campaign contributions from people and companies doing business with the city?
Anna Valencia: I don’t accept campaign contributions from people or companies doing business with the Office of the City Clerk.
Will you or have you accepted campaign contributions from employees of this office?
Anna Valencia: No.
What qualifies you to be city clerk?
Anna Valencia: Making our government accessible is something I’ve always been passionate about. As City Clerk, I have worked to build a more accessible, equitable and inclusive Chicago and I want to continue that work in the future. Initiatives like CityKey, the Status of Women and Girls Working Group and the Fines, Fees and Access Collaborative are programs I am proud of and things that are pushing our city forward. I want to continue to build bridges between the government and our communities.
Please tell us what you have done in the last two years to serve the city, your neighborhood or a civic organization. Please be specific.
Anna Valencia: Since I’ve come into office as City Clerk, I’ve worked to push forward initiatives that make our government more accessible and give Chicagoans a better understanding of the services it provides. My office has worked to implement CityKey to give all Chicagoans access to city services regardless of their age, housing status, gender or criminal record. We’ve introduced Next Generation City Council which gives CPS students a hands-on experience of the inner workings of their City government. These young people now have an opportunity to craft and vote on legislation inside the Council Chambers where their representatives sit. Our Women and Girls Working Group has brought together women from various industries with the goal of creating a stronger and more equitable Chicago for young girls and women. These initiatives are helping us move toward our goal of creating a Chicago that genuinely works for all of the people.
If elected, what would be your top three priorities for this office?
Anna Valencia: My top priorities include making this office more accessible to the people of Chicago, advocating for social and economic justice issues and encouraging the next generation of leaders to become civically involved.