New Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias visits Bloomington
Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias said to expect his tenure as the first new head of the office in 24 years to be "scandal-free" and lead to modernized services.
Giannoulias gave the comments Thursday afternoon during a news conference at the driver services facility on Market Street in west Bloomington. He said the central Illinois stop was one of several planned across the state.
"Bloomington is an important area for me to spend time in, and we're going to be spending more time here," he said. "I think it's representative of the whole state."
Giannoulias, a Democrat, defeated Republican challenger and longtime Bloomington state representative Dan Brady in the 2022 race to be the first person succeeding longtime office holder Jesse White.
Despite running against each other and representing different parties, Giannoulias said Brady recently accepted a committee position offered after the election.
"When people come in here, they don't ask if the Secretary of State's a Democrat or Republican — they just want someone who cares, who's making things faster," he said. "After the election, I called Dan Brady and said, 'You've had some good ideas. I'd love for you to chair one of my committees.' ... We're going across the aisle. I wish more people did that."
Already, Giannoulias signed an executive order implementing a number of ethics reforms in the Secretary of State's office, including codification of policy prohibiting SOS employees from donating to the officeholder's political funds and creating a new email address for the office's inspector general.
On Thursday, Giannoulias told reporters that measure had been preventative — an act motivated by campaign promises and not as a result of seeing "major issues" within the office.
"We wanted to codify some of the issues that the secretary was already working on," he said. "You're going to be seeing a little bit more of that through legislation ... so people will continue to see that theme: ethics and modernization."
Giannoulias said digitization of records like identification cards and car titles is among the office's various goals.
"I think, if you look at what some of the other states around the country have done, we're falling a little bit behind," he said. "But we'll catch back up."
Some of those efforts, like electronic car titles, could be implemented within Giannoulias' first year, he said, but others may take longer.
Prior to the 2022 elections, the Chicago Democrat had not run for office since 2010, when he lost the race for a U.S. Senate to Republican Mark Kirk.
Giannoulias said despite being the first person to be secretary of Ssate since White's 1999 election, he doesn't feel "pressure" in the new role.
"I don't think in terms of pressure," he said. "Secretary White has been great. ... He gave me some good advice on how he sees things, but he also has said, 'You need to craft the office in your image — how you want things to be.'"