Illinois comptroller nominee Susana Mendoza speaks to College Democrats


Jeremy Yu/The Daily Northwestern

Illinois Comptroller nominee Susana Mendoza speaks at event held by College Democrats on Tuesday. During the talk, Mendoza criticized her opponent Leslie Munger and Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Sam Krevlin, Reporter

Illinois Comptroller nominee Susana Mendoza lashed out at her opponent Leslie Munger and Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday night at an event held by College Democrats.

With a projected $10 billion state backlog in unpaid bills to start the 2017 fiscal year and an unprecedented budget gridlock, the comptroller race is now hotly contested. The comptroller is responsible for issuing payments from the state’s fiscal accounts.  

Mendoza, a Democrat, said the ongoing fiscal crisis makes prioritizing payments difficult. She said several social service providers have been forced to shut down or make cuts because they have not received government funding, and many are still awaiting payments.

She refuted the claim that the comptroller election is a proxy war between Rauner and Illinois House speaker Michael Madigan, who endorsed Mendoza. The candidate said she was first elected to the Illinois General Assembly by taking on an incumbent supported by Madigan.

“No one put me there other than the voters,” Mendoza said. “No politician put me there. I don’t owe my career to anybody other than to the people who elected me time and time again. … I’ve earned everything I have gotten.”

Mendoza is currently serving her second term as Chicago city clerk. She previously served as a Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives, becoming the youngest member of the General Assembly when elected in 2000.

Because Munger was appointed by Rauner, Mendoza said she believes Munger’s work is influenced by him. Munger, a former executive at a beauty company, was appointed by Rauner to be comptroller in January 2015.

Mendoza said she believes the $1 million Rauner has spent on Munger’s campaign is a “conflict of interest.”

“The minute she accepted it, she sold the office because she is selling the independence of the office,” Mendoza said. “I am not accepting million dollar contributions from people that I am supposed to oversee … It’s just wrong and that is what our state has come to.”

However, Munger has accused Mendoza of being bound to her own party. Munger has said Mendoza accepted money from Madigan personally and other special interests such as labor unions. Republicans have criticized Mendoza for taking $1,000 from a janitorial contractor, which was at odds with labor unions, according to Politico.

Weinberg sophomore Bryan Lee, vice president of programming for College Democrats, said because U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth is so far ahead in the senate race against Sen. Mark Kirk, Rauner and other special interest groups are pouring money into the comptroller race and down ballot legislative races. Duckworth is up 13 points as of the end of October, according to RealClearPolitics.

“If you go on ahead and turn on the T.V., you are going to a lot of commercials for Leslie Munger and other Republican state lawmakers,” Lee said.

Lee, whose mother works for a health department in Rockford, Illinois, said he would would like to see her bills get paid. He said a lot of the Republican unwillingness to compromise that has led to the situation would continue under Munger.

Munger said she blames both major parties for the budget stalemate, according to the Chicago Tribune. She said, for years, Democrats have decided to spend more money than Illinois takes in.

“It’s important to remember that when the governor and I were sworn in, we did not create this problem,” Munger told the Chicago Tribune. “It has gotten a little worse as we run the state with no budget, we but didn’t create it.”

SESP senior Sydney Selix, co-president of College Democrats, said she will be voting for Mendoza because of her “moral compass.” She said Mendoza is above the political warfare that many have called a proxy war.

“She will make something out of a position that many haven’t heard of into a position that can be seen as esteemed as it is,” Selix said.

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