Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), whose ward runs from South Loop to Bronzeville and who has served in City Council since 2007, is running for Illinois Secretary of State, promising greater customer service, increased efficiency and "innovating cutting-edge technology."
Alongside the secretary of state’s typical role as custodian of state records, Illinois' office is also in charge of motor vehicle licensing and registry. Dowel said she wants to issue multi-year license plate stickers, which she said would provide Illinois with more up-front revenue, and introduce temporary visitor drivers' licenses.
"My goal for this office is to provide the residents of Illinois with the best customer service possible," Dowell said, "and not use the office as a personal stepping stone to advance my career."
She also wants to assist small businesses with state licensing requirements, saying the office could help entrepreneurs navigate the bureaucracy.
A New York native (she played college basketball at the University of Rochester), Dowell got her master's in social service administration at the University of Chicago and decided to stay, citing her love of the lakefront.
"Basically, since my graduate days, I've worked to improve Chicago communities and Chicago neighborhoods, first as a city planner, but I also directed agencies like Public Allies, which is a national organization, the Near West Side Community Organization and Mid-South Planning and Development Commission, where I was a founding executive director."
While she endorsed Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the 2019 mayoral runoff, Mayor Lori Lightfoot made Dowell her Budget Committee chair after taking office.
The Democratic primary race to replace incumbent Jesse White, in office since 1999, is getting crowded: former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, southwest suburban state Sen. Michael Hastings (D-19th) and Chicago City Clerk Anna M. Valencia are also running. Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough has endorsed Dowell.