Darlene Senger

Darlene Senger

Republican Party

Comptroller Candidate

Questions & Answers

For the November 2018 Election

What is the importance of the Illinois Comptroller to your constituents in Champaign County?

As the chief financial officer for the state, the comptroller must serve as a watchdog and strong voice on fiscal issues facing the entire state of Illinois. Throughout my career, I have placed a strong emphasis on core business and civic values: proactive and responsive customer/constituent service, transparency at all levels and most importantly, honesty. I want to bring that same approach to the management of the comptroller’s office to benefit all constituents.

It is crucial that we establish a distinguished constituent service department that interacts with the groups most impacted by the state’s fiscal mismanagement. Because of our ever-growing backlog and delayed payment cycle, we are hurting small businesses, social services and other community organizations. As a state, we need to do a better job of working with and supporting our local communities. Unfortunately, this necessity is currently being overshadowed by machine politics that largely dominates the more heavily populated Chicagoland area, disregarding many of the needs of those living in central and southern Illinois. If elected, I will work tirelessly to change this and serve on behalf of the interests of all constituents.

For example, the comptroller’s office compiles all local government reports throughout the state of Illinois. As a clearinghouse for this local government information, there is an opportunity to provide more relevant information to residents so they are better able to understand their state and local finances. If elected, I will publish a report card to track the local governments’ financial status so constituents can see how their town is managing taxpayer dollars through a user-friendly portal. This proactive improvement would provide information to residents and local governments on the health of their administrations and hopefully identify situations such as those that befell University Park and Harvey.

I also believe the office has a responsibility to be transparent and honest with the public as it relates to the budget-making process. With the information and analysis that is readily available within the office, I believe I can serve as a sounding board for many of the fiscal decisions the governor and Illinois General Assembly enact. I will work with the governor regardless of his party to craft a February budget and I will avail myself to the Illinois General Assembly members in appropriation meetings.

Lastly, the comptroller’s office manages millions of warrants each year; however, there is a lack of transparency as it relates to this process. Considering this is one of the largest responsibilities of the comptroller, I believe it is critical to look within the office budget and identify a path towards a third party, independent leader who will oversee the payment cycle. This will give taxpayers a greater assurance, that politics isn’t coming into play for the state’s CFO.

Why are you qualified to be the Illinois Comptroller?

Politics aside, I believe I have the most experience for the job. My interest and dedication to this line of work began at Purdue University, where I earned a finance degree. I then pursued this passion further by earning an MBA from DePaul University. Regarding my professional experience, I worked as a director for a bank in their Trust Department, a pension consultant, investment advisor, and the CFO for a state agency. I also have experience with and understand municipal and state governments.

More specifically, I have built my career managing complex budgets and creating bold fiscal policies that have benefited those I represented on the Naperville City Council, the Illinois legislature and as CFO for the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Now more than ever, it is critical to have a Comptroller who leads by example and keeps their own spending in line while bringing attention to the fiscal issues facing our state. Because of my collective experiences, I have a plethora of policy suggestions to develop for tax savings.

What is a key policy difference between you and your Opponent[s]?

Many policy differences exist between my opponents and me. One of the most significant examples is that I stand alone in my strong belief that the state and its residents can benefit from consolidating the offices of the comptroller and treasurer. However, more importantly, I believe that this issue should be left to the voters to decide. Only Illinois and four other states have a dedicated Comptroller and Treasurer as two completely separate entities. I have long supported legislation that would present the question of whether or not to merge these two offices to the voters. This merger could reduce the size of Illinois government and save approximately $12 million for the residents.

In 2012, the Illinois Senate passed SJRCA 13 by a vote of 55 – 0 that would present this consolidation question to the voters of our state. Speaker Madigan blocked this bill from moving forward. One of my opponents, incumbent Susana Mendoza, has been very vocal against the idea of consolidating the offices. Furthermore, she has also stated that she doesn’t trust that this issue should be left to the voters to decide, a blatant disregard for Illinois residents’ rights to contribute to the governance of our state. Both as City Clerk and now as the incumbent, she continuously dismisses an idea that is the right of the voters to decide.

This common-sense idea can not only save taxpayers millions of dollars, but it also encourages greater communication between the two offices, which will allow more savings and efficiencies in the future.

Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter in Champaign County?

Illinois doesn’t need any more politicians who grandstand for personal gain. We need individuals willing to make the tough choices to solve our state’s most difficult problems. I am not running for this office to look for the next steps in my political career. I am running for IL Comptroller because I believe I possess the necessary fiscal and policy acumen that can benefit taxpayers from day one. I want to bring a new level of efficiency and innovation to the office that will improve Illinois’ fiscal future.

Incumbent Mendoza has spent her entire career earning a salary on the taxpayer dime; yet, she has never held a job where she personally had to manage money and budgets and think creatively about doing more with less. The ‘Illinois way’ of politics has been ingrained into how she runs her office. She continues to focus on political opportunism and enhancing her image as opposed to doing what is right for the residents of Illinois. As Comptroller, she continues to advocate for tax increases and more borrowing which is the last thing the residents of our great state need. Furthermore, in the wake of Rahm Emanuel’s decision not to seek reelection, news is circulating that Mendoza may choose to run in the upcoming mayoral election. She has not denied this possibility and has not given a straight answer when I and many media outlets have asked. Illinois deserves a comptroller that will commit to the entirety of the job.

I believe that the Comptroller’s primary role is to be a public servant and to maintain an independent perspective. This position should not be used to bolster the Comptroller’s political agenda or serve as an opportunity to boost a particular political platform. This is simply unfair to the hardworking residents and taxpayers of the state. Lastly, if elected to this position, I promise to the residents of Champaign and Illinois collectively that I will dedicate the next four years of my life to working as the comptroller in order to put Illinois on a better, more sustainable financial path.

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