Outgoing Republican Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti will pass on the baton to Juliana Stratton next week, when a new administration is sworn in.
But before that, we sat down with Sanguinetti to talk about her upbringings with immigrant parents--a Cuban mother and Ecuadorian father, her influence on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s policies and what it has meant to be the first Latina lieutenant governor in the country.
On her influence on Rauner and the policies he pursued:
I've always had his ear. That doesn't mean he does everything I tell him to do, but I think the relationship has been a very, very positive one. I've always been very empathetic and I like to listen to people and that's what I did in the state of Illinois. I think it's my background of listening to underserved communities, because I came from one, and finding ways to move the needle. I do feel that my relationship with Bruce has been a healthy one because I've been able to open his heart and mind to a lot of issues. The TRUST Act was one of them. I have great hope for JB (Pritzker) and Juliana (Stratton). I hope that they're able to have that sort of trust where they could respectfully disagree and agree.
On criticism that Lt. Gov.-elect Juliana Stratton will be more involved in government:
I don't look at it as a competition of who's going to do more. I worked very hard. I don't think I could have worked any harder. I went through all 102 counties and headed a bunch of task forces for the governor as well as my statutory duties. But you know, the more she can do over and above, more power to her because at the end of the day, we all benefit. You, me and all of Illinois.
On being a trailblazer:
I get called that all the time, but no, because I consider myself a peligrosa -- a dangerous female. I think that's so much better than 'trailblazer'. So I'm a first and I had no idea that I was the first Latino lieutenant governor in the country until my swearing in ceremony.
They announced my name as I was coming out onto the stage with my family, and they said 'the first Latina in the country'. That's when it dawned on me: the sense of responsibility now being the first to let those little girls in grade school that came from my same sort of background that they could do exactly what I did and more.
On her legacy as lieutenant governor:
I'm proud of a lot of accomplishments. The first project that Bruce had given me was to chair the Taskforce on Consolidation of Government and Unfunded Mandates. And I thought to myself, wow, that doesn't sound cool. I'm not saving children, but it's about consolidation and delivering a more efficient, streamlined government. There was a hunger for it. On bipartisan basis, I led a task force and we made 27 recommendations and we've seen a lot of those recommendations become law. I want people to appreciate how important this is. So Illinois has the most units of local government than any, any other state in the union because sometimes these units of local government are duplicative.
Something else that I'm very proud of is the Opioid Overdose Prevention Taskforce. I co-chaired that taskforce and I traveled the state implementing those recommendations. We now have a 1-800 number that people could call to ask questions from any part of the state anytime of the day, seven days a week.
Something else that we did is the prescription monitoring program. We keep on hearing about the over prescribers. We needed to make it law that they let us know their prescribing practices so that we could track those over prescribers.
And then of course you've heard of Narcan. It's what reserses an overdose. So we have a standing order on it so that right now you could go to Walgreens, get Narcan, and if somebody is experiencing an overdose, you could save lives. You could be a first responder today.