Anna Valencia Wants to Continue to Open Doors and Opportunities (Chicago, IL) — There were several moments that defined Anna M.Valencia’s rise to her current position. You could point to 2016 when there was an opportunity to become Chicago city clerk and she saw the divisiveness of the U.S. Presidential election.
“There were a lot of women raising their hand to run for public office, and I wanted to be one of those women. I didn’t feel like I could stand behind the scenes any longer and work on the sidelines. I had to be out in the fight,” said Valencia.
Or you can look decades before from her youth. Growing up in downstate Granite City, Valencia believes her working class, union family upbringing helped her understand the challenges many Illinois families face. With education instilled as an essential facet of life, she became the first person in her family to graduate from college.
Valencia is running for Illinois Secretary of State to replace long-standing official, Jesse White, who has endorsed her.
Valencia has served as City Clerk of Chicago since 2017. During her time, she has worked to make the office more accessible to the public and implemented policies to help improve the lives of families throughout Chicago. She established the City Key Program, making free optional government issued ID cards available to all Chicagoans and improving access to city benefits like discount prescription drug programs.
In her capacity as city clerk, she also worked on various initiatives including reducing and/or eliminating cumbersome fines.
“I met a CTA bus driver on the west side of Chicago, a father of five, who had $5,000 in city sticker ticket debt. If you do not register your vehicle with us, you get a $200 fine per day. When the city told him, he had to put $2,500 down to get on a payment plan, and he couldn’t, his driver’s license was suspended, and he lost his job, which is completely opposite of what we’re supposed to be doing as public servants,” said Valencia.
She worked with Governor J. B. Pritzker and White passing a law that no longer suspends driver’s license for non moving violations, which gave 55,000 residents just in Chicago alone, their driver’s license back and their ability to get back to work.
“It’s those types of innovative ideas that are really helping people that I want to bring to the Secretary of State’s office,” said Valencia.
The pandemic also revealed the need for more technology and infrastructure upgrades to different state offices. Some initiatives Valencia would like to see in the Secretary of State office include creating more pop up mobile DMV that would show up at various communities and possibly open weekend and evening hours to make life convenient for residents for driver’s license, state IDs or registering a business.
“We’ve needed to put more services online. At the Secretary of State’s office, I would like to create a mobile app where you could upload documents and even take your vision test and pay online,” Valencia added. “People wouldn’t have to take a day off work or find childcare and stand in a DMV line for four to five hours, You may not even need to step into the DMV facility if you don’t need to and that would clear up the lines for our seniors and people with disabilities who really need to go to the office.”
In addition, she wants to create programs and jobs that will engage youth in civics and government information and discourse. She believes young people, especially people of color, have lacked access to government internships and opportunities.
With her personal belief that government has the ability to have a profound and meaningful impact on people’s lives, Valencia decided after college to go to work helping to elect Democratic officials who she knew would fight for working families like her own. It’s another moment that shaped her life. She said her goal is to always make sure any government office she holds remains open, transparent and accessible to all.
“You take my own story. When I grew up in Granite City down in southern Illinois, I didn’t have a lot of people that looked like me in government service, I didn’t know that was an opportunity. They didn’t have a booth at your career day that talked about people going into public service. I had a job shadow experience sophomore year of high school, and I went to Springfield, to shadow our state senator Evelyn Bowles. I remember stepping on that State Capitol building and looking up at the dome and just realizing, I didn’t know how I was going to get here, but I wanted to be part of this.”
Anna Valencia Wants to Continue to Open Doors and Opportunities