Interview: Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon

Nov 13, 2013


Sheila Simon will wrap up her term as Lieutenant Governor in just over a year.   The Democrat and daughter of late U.S. Senator Paul Simon is taking on another challenge.  She's running for Illinois Comptroller. That means Simon faces incumbent Republican Judy Baar Topinka.  The attacks are already underway. 

Topinka questions Simon's interest in the job, saying she only chose to run for this office after earlier plans to try for Attorney General were scuttled when Lisa Madigan chose to stay put.

Simon has taken aim at Topinka for failing to do enough with local government financial data.  Topinka recently unveiled a web portal that lists much of that information.  Simon called it "too little, too late."

"What her new website does is allow you to view, side by side, two units of government.  What I'd like to don with the data is compile and benchmark it.  Get that information back o the library boards, the park districts, so they can look at it and say 'We're taxing more than park districts our size or we have more debt than other communities our size," Simon said. 

She goes on to say many who serve in local government have no idea how their tax body compares to others. 

Simon has been able to delve into several issues, like education, as Lieutenant Governor.  She says she wants to be Comptroller because it can help get more people engaged in how governments spend money. 

While some have argued getting rid of the Lieutenant Governor position would be a cost savings, she lobbies to keep it.  "45 of the 50 states have a lieutenant governor.  it's important to have stability in succession.  It's also important (for a governor) to have that extra advisor you can't fire," she said.

Her father's legacy has helped her political career.  But she admits it can overshadow her accomplishments. "I'm not complaining.  When I travel around the state, the most common thing people say to me is 'I didn't always agree with your dad, but I appreciated his honesty," Simon said. "It's a pretty darn good shadow to be in."