After interviewing a number of candidates, Gov. Pat Quinn announced last Tuesday at Hotel Allegro in downtown Chicago that Superintendent Paul Vallas would be his running mate for the 2014 election.
“I know what I can do to help Quinn govern Illinois because he has already assembled an incredible team,” Vallas said. “I’m just another addition to it.”
Vallas said Quinn wants to assemble the strongest team possible, and Quinn’s going to use Vallas as a strong administrator who can help him improve the effectiveness of Illinois government.
With Vallas once running for governor of Illinois in 2001 and losing to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, he knows that helping Quinn win this second election won’t be easy at all.
“I’m a public servant who gravitates towards taking on the big assignments and challenges,” Vallas said. “I relish the opportunity to stand with Quinn, and I thank him for it.”
Vallas said that he has no problem with being the subordinate of a man that he highly respects and believes in.
“It really doesn’t make any difference whether I’m second fiddle, third fiddle, second banana, fifth banana or green banana,” Vallas said. “I’ve worked for Democratic state Senator Dawn Netsch for eight years, and I was definitely second fiddle to her.”
“So it’s really easy for me to subordinate myself to Quinn,” said Vallas.
Although Vallas said he was honored that Quinn invited him as a candidate, he said he had mixed emotions when Quinn finally chose him as his running mate.
“I was always concerned whether or not I could help him politically,” Vallas said. “In fact I told him, ‘Do you really want someone who is high profiled like me, who has been in public service for more than 30 years and has held so many controversial positions?”
Vallas was raised on the South Side of Chicago in the Roseland area. He attended Moraine Valley Community College and later went to Western Illinois University. He served for 13 years in the Illinois National Guard.
Vallas has also worked in Springfield as an overseer at Illinois Senate Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, the Senate Revenue Committee, and as the executive director of the nonpartisan Illinois Economic and Fiscal Commission.
“We have many people in Illinois that’s in the Diplomatic party who are very talented, but I decided to pick Vallas because I’ve known him for 30 years and he knows Illinois like the back of his hand,” said Quinn.
Vallas was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools from 1995 to 2001 and led an effort to reform the school system, raise test scores and balance the budget. He also worked on mandatory summer school, after school programs and the expansion of alternative, charter and magnet schools.
“He has been a people’s person his entire life, and that’s the reason why I picked him,” Quinn said. “He understands that our mission here on earth is to make things better for our fellow citizens who work together in harmony and unity.”
Although Quinn and Vallas have known each other for 30 years and have been in government for decades, some alderman believed that if the right republican duo teams up, then the election won’t be easy.
“It’s impossible to tell who is going to win until the Republican candidates are announced, whether it is Illinois Senator Bill Brady who represents the 44th district or even Kirk W. Dillard who represents the 24th district.”
One UIC professor of political science said he saw the value in the selection.
“The announcement of Vallas becoming lieutenant governor continues the image of Quinn because Vallas is seen as honest and ethical,” said Dick W. Simpson, who is also a former alderman of the 44th ward.
As Vallas ended his portion of the press conference, he said that the people in Illinois should take his accomplishments into consideration.
“I think my record on education, on holding the line on taxes, building schools, negotiating collective bargaining agreements without ever having strikes or disagreements having to go to arbitration is a record that women and men in this state can acknowledge that I’m a person of at least some accomplishments,” Vallas said.