Running for comptroller in Illinois, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon promises not just accounting, but accountability. In a state notorious for its political scandals, Simon offers a much-needed commitment to shining a light on corruption, blowing the whistle on waste, and being the fiscal watchdog the state so desperately needs.
Unopposed in the primary, Simon will face off against Republican Judy Baar Topinka, the current comptroller. Topinka has earned the label of “missing in action” when it comes to watching over local government spending.
“In recent years, corruption and misappropriation of tax dollars have slipped through the cracks, costing taxpayers millions,” reads the endorsement of Simon by the Cook County Democratic Party and the Southern 20 Chairmen. “Most notable among these was in Dixon, where City Comptroller Rita Crundwell embezzled $53 million. When asked about Dixon, Judy Baar Topinka’s office stated that she’s not responsible for analyzing the data – her office is only a repository.”
Progressive Credentials: Sheila Simon is the daughter of the late former U.S. Senator Paul Simon, a longtime friend of 21st Century Democrats. Following in her father’s footsteps, Simon built her career on improving education, restoring ethics, and advancing progressive and fiscally responsible policy.
She also has a strong commitment to transparency in politics, saying, “I have led by example, providing not just tax returns, but detailed personal income and asset disclosure. Every year. Unmatched by anyone serving in Illinois. I will continue that as comptroller.”
As a member of the Illinois Reform Commission, Simon helped pass the first campaign contribution limits under Illinois law. As lieutenant governor, she did not accept contributions from state contractors or state employees.
Simon prosecuted domestic violence cases as an Assistant State’s Attorney, and helped launch the Southern Illinois School of Law’s domestic violence clinic.
Simon’s public service started with her first job after graduating from Georgetown law school in 1987. “I had the option of working for a big firm and a big paycheck. Instead, I came home to be a legal aid attorney, where I stood up for people facing foreclosure, eviction and poverty. Then I worked as a prosecutor in Jackson County where I stood up against domestic violence – those who prey upon their own family members.”
Simon’s parents, the late Paul and Jeanne Simon, served in the Illinois House together, and were lifelong public servants.
Paul Simon ran for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination and is well-respected for a career built on foreign and domestic policy accomplishments. Among those are his opposition to the Republican Contract with America and his leadership in overhauling the college student loan program.
Why We Like Her: Because she’s carrying on the Simon tradition of a trademark. While her father’s was his bow tie, Sheila has her banjo, which she played to welcome The Onion to Illinois:
Candidate Quote: “Many of you worked with and remember my dad – he was a U.S. senator, but he got his start as a newspaper reporter exposing corruption. He wrote an article for Harper’s Magazine entitled, ‘The Illinois Legislature: A Study in Corruption.’ His colleagues voted to give him the Benedict Arnold award. We laugh about that now, but dad never backed down. He passed the state’s first open meeting law that guaranteed press and public access to government meetings. Transparency is a part of my foundation.”