Illinois’ secretary of state is seeking a fifth term in that office. Jesse White, a Democrat first elected in 1998, is kicking off his re-election bid Thursday, saying the voters have responded well to the way he runs the office. “We have run the office like it is a business, restored some integrity to it, and put it in a posture by which they could be proud, and based on the numbers of votes that we’ve been able to garner each election, they understand that they put the right person in the right place at the right time,” he said at a campaign event in Chicago Thursday morning.
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White touts his accomplishments as cleaning up an office that was scarred by the licenses-for-bribes scandal that ultimately led to George Ryan, the previous secretary of state, going to prison. He is also credited with reforming disability placards, instituting graduated licenses for new drivers under age 18, various anti-drunk driving efforts, and shortening lines at secretary of state offices.
White, 79, is an Alton native who lives in Chicago. He is an Army veteran who previously served 16 years in the Illinois General Assembly. In May of next year, White will become the longest-serving secretary of state in Illinois history. Outside of politics, White is known as the founder of the Jesse White tumblers, an acrobatics team formed in 1959 that White still coaches. It is intended to keep inner-city children out of trouble. There is not yet a Republican candidate in the race.