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. Elizabeth Arias-Ibarra submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Elizabeth “Betty” Arias-Ibarra?
She’s running for: City Clerk
Her political/civic background: None
Her occupation: Vice President Operations Manager
Her education: Bachelor of Arts
Campaign website: Bettyforcityclerk.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?
Elizabeth “Betty” Arias–Ibarra: The Chicago Clerk’s office should be 100% automated, digitized and transparent. The Clerk should also make appearances and talk about everything happening in the office on a quarterly basis.
All documents should be online to facilitate access to the public. As of right now, there is no oversight, accountability and the Clerk has historically been used as a pawn by the Mayor for political gain and a source of revenue.
The fact is that the Clerk position is so secluded that most don’t even know who the Clerk is or what the Clerk Office actually does, until now because of this election, but that changes now.
The Clerk’s office should be more transparent, better automated and have a community forum, portal and an easier way to pay online, arrange payment plans ans focus more on getting everyone to register by lowering prices and making it easier to work with the city and increase much needed revenue instead of imposing violation, fees and fines that precluded people from paying, and there is a definite cost to that process as well.
This office needs to cut all paperwork, automate everything, cutt staff and focus more on working for the people instead against lower income individuals.
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?
Elizabeth “Betty” Arias–Ibarra: The card was used for political reasons and the card is failing. Unfortunately, once again the City Clerk has been used as a pawn by the Mayor and they borrowed this concept from NY in effort to replace lost votes from African Americans and they’re trying to replace them with Latino votes. I call it “discounts for votes”.
Should the city clerk be appointed by the mayor and City Council, rather than elected? Please explain.
Elizabeth “Betty” Arias–Ibarra: The City Clerk is supposed to serve as a bridge between City Hall and the public, so they should be elected. Most of the problems and corruption that have engulfed this office can be directly attributed to the appointment process vs election process because the Mayor has used the position for political gain or advantage, to do their dirty work, used the Clerk aa pawns with very little oversight, as long as they did what the Mayor wanted.
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?
Elizabeth “Betty” Arias–Ibarra: City Clerks should be forced to give a quarterly statement, be accessible to the public, answer Q&A, be on forums and be active and not reduced to Facebook or Twitter. They should be be seen and report and answer to a “council”.
Will you or have you accepted campaign contributions from people and companies doing business with the city?
Elizabeth “Betty” Arias–Ibarra: No and No
Will you or have you accepted campaign contributions from employees of this office?
Elizabeth “Betty” Arias–Ibarra: No
What qualifies you to be city clerk?
Elizabeth “Betty” Arias–Ibarra: I have close to 3 decades of managerial, auditing and financial experience in various capacities in Corporate America and consider myself an expert in financial management in general. I can use that experience to audit, reshape and make this office operate independently and more efficient and cost-effect than it is right now. I would also make everything within the office more transparent and make the office more accountable to the public not the Mayor or City Council.
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.
Elizabeth “Betty” Arias–Ibarra: I’ve helped a few families sabe their homes, ran a couple of football teams for the under privileged children that couldn’t afford to join other more prestigious teams. Free seminars on tax issues for the low income families.
If elected, what would be your top three priorities for this office?
Elizabeth “Betty” Arias–Ibarra:
- Perform a comprehensive audit and reduce redundancy, audit all programs, contracts amd eliminate the City Key Card program and a few other things. Cost reduction and corruption auditing is the first amd primary goal.
- Reverse the terrible decision by the current Mayor to raise the prices of City Stickers and fees. I would create a sticker fee structure that discounts fees for low income individuals, law enforcement, seniors and allow them to pay online anyway they wish exp monthly, quarterly or yearly.
- Start the planning to automate the office to save money and create an app and community portal for the public allowing transparency.
Also running for clerk: