Chicago, IL—On behalf of the over 7,000 members of the National Association of Social Workers Illinois Chapter Political Action Committee (NASW-IL PAC) and the over 20,000 licensed social workers in the state of Illinois, it is our pleasure to emphatically endorse Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza for Illinois Comptroller in the upcoming 2016 general election.
The Illinois Comptroller position, while obscure to many, is a critical position for social service agencies and the social workers they employ. Whether it is determining priority for payment, ushering social service agencies through the state payment process, or being an advocate for prompt payment of services rendered, the Illinois Comptroller must understand the complexities and the crisis our delayed payment situation is causing to our social service infrastructure and mental health safety net.
We believe strongly that the advocate and manager of this critical state office should be Susana Mendoza.
In 2014, the NASW-IL PAC endorsed Republican Judy Barr Topinka for this post. We did so based on her strong advocacy for the social service industry, her innovative staff, and her ability to rise above party politics and “tell you how it is.” While the current comptroller has retained some of that staff and has made inconsistent efforts to reach the social service community, her attempts to avoid party politics has come up woefully short.
While we are cautiously encouraged that both candidates have run on prioritizing human service payments, we are also justifiably nervous about when human services fall out of favor.
We are also disappointed both candidates continue to support the publicly popular (yet likely illegal) practice of delaying politician payroll. Our members understand the very real crisis a lack of a state budget is having on their businesses and the clients they serve. However, we believe in a fundamental policy principle that if you work, you should get paid for that work. While we join thousands of advocates in being disappointed in the lack of progress legislators made to produce a fair and equitable state budget, we cannot support political points over paying for work rendered. It is not right to withhold payroll from state legislators as it wouldn’t be right when the state withholds payroll from future employees the chief executive deems unworthy of payment.
The Illinois Comptroller office not only has to be efficient, but it also has to be above the daily squabbles that have turned Springfield into a partisan standstill. We are not confident the current appointed officeholder with such strong financial ties to the chief executive can or will be that person.
NASW-IL has a long relationship with Clerk Mendoza going back to her early days running against Speaker Madigan’s preferred candidates. She was a strong social service advocate in the Illinois General Assembly who constantly stood up to party leaders on issues of critical importance.
Her work modernizing the Chicago City Clerk’s office and accessibility to the public gives us renewed hope for what she can do for a still inefficient state office.
She is also a tireless advocate for social service issues important to our profession, which gives us confidence that while in office she will work to re-establish the communication lines the late Comptroller Topinka worked so hard to create.
As we enter year two of what can only be described as a state in total chaos, we need strong, independent leadership in this office. Clerk Mendoza is our pick to be the next Illinois Comptroller.