Tribune: So, we’re gonna jump right in with a burning question right now, um, Mayor Emanuel’s decision to not run for re-election next year has thrown a different factor into the November races. So, Comptroller Mendoza, do you plan to run for mayor?
Mendoza: Way to start off with a softball, right? So, hello! Uh, I am running for comptroller, that’s why I’m here and I’m very excited to talk about the record of accomplishments that I’ve done over the last almost now two years and uh the reason I’m here is I love my job and I’m very focused on being comptroller, so there’s still 48 more days to go, and I have a message to share across the state of Illinois and that is what my commitment is. I know that there’s a lot of speculation going on but I don’t think that anybody here can know exactly what the future holds for any of us, what I know is what I can do today and that is stay focused on this race and and ask people to give me an opportunity to continue to represent them.
Tribune: Can you give us an idea of where your thought process is, because obviously voters don’t want to elect someone for comptroller and then you spend the next six months running for mayor.
Mendoza: Right, well, you know, my thought process is that I love this job and I think that it’s super flattering and it’s, you know, the greatest honor to have people say and suggest that I am capable and experienced to lead a higher office, but you know, the mayor just dropped a bombshell on the city of Chicago and the dust is still settling and I can’t get distracted from what my job is which is to manage the state during this fiscal crisis and I’m committed and continue to do that. So, again, I don’t know what the future holds for any of us but what I know is that every single day that I’ve served in this position and every single day that I continue to serve is with the people of Illinois’ best interests in mind and that is what I’m focused on.
Tribune: So, will you pledge that if elected you will fill your full term as comptroller?
Mendoza: Again, you know, I don’t rule anything in or out, I think that there’s been lots of people before me, and even people that are right now currently running for mayor, who are in a similar position as I am in, where I think a lot of people have gotten out front on this issue and are focused on the mayor’s race, my focus continues to be the comptroller’s race and again I don’t know where I’ll be in three years, I hope I’m healthy, first and foremost, and everybody else that’s sitting at this table, but I think that my commitment continues to be to run for comptroller, I haven’t made any noise in terms of running for mayor. Um, and that is something that needs to continue to be the case, it’s one election at a time, and I’m very focused on this election right now.
Tribune: Do either of her opponents, do either of you want to weigh in on this mayoral issue?
Senger: You know um, I could just tell you one thing right now is when elected and if elected comptroller, I will serve four years as comptroller, and unless something, like merging the comptroller’s office and the treasurer’s office happens, so that’s an issue there, but, [to Mendoza] I would like to see a commitment that on November 7th, if you’re elected, you’re gonna be there for four years, and you’re kind of hedging it.
Mendoza: I’m not hedging anything, I’m very committed to be the comptroller, that’s what I’m running for, that’s why we’re here, and I do think it’s ironic though, all kidding aside, that the person who is saying she doesn’t want to even serve as comptroller because she wants to eliminate the office is questioning my commitment to this office. I think I’ve shown my commitment over the last two years, I have lead this state through the worst fiscal crisis, it’s been my greatest honor, and it’s nice that people think that I am capable of doing something else. But right now I am here to talk about my record and why I believe that the people of Illinois should be happy to continue to hope that they have a, you know, a fiscal watchdog that is looking out on their behalf. So, that is my focus, um, again, as someone who doesn’t even want to serve a whole term as comptroller, when the comptroller’s office is very important in the state of Illinois, I would say that that’s a little bit disingenuous, as well.
Senger: And again, the function’s not going away, the cost of having two offices are…
Mendoza: -I’ll be happy to engage in that debate in a little bit.
Senger: But again, you haven’t answered the question, on November 7th are you…
Mendoza: I think I’ve answered the question and I would be happy to talk about my record as comptroller and why I deserve to be re-elected as comptroller, thank you.
Tribune: If you are thinking about running for mayor, you’d have to turn around almost immediately after election day and prepare for that.
Mendoza: So, here’s the great part, like the media and everyone else gets to speculate and have fun with that…
Tribune: I’m not asking you to speculate. I’m saying that you would have to turn around immediately to prepare, get petitions,
Tribune: …to run for office, so it’s hard to me that you wouldn’t be making a decision on this before election day.
Mendoza: All those points are true, all those points are true. But again, I am very focused on the next 48 days and everyone who has called me to ask that I consider running for mayor I have given the exact same answer that I’m giving you, which is that I am very focused on this election, I have been working hard across the entire state of Illinois. Not a single thing has changed on my schedule as to am I in Chicago more versus Downstate more. I am here today with this Tribune editorial board because I think that it’s important that your readers know what I’ve done for the state and why I’m asking them to give me another opportunity to continue to represent them. And again, what the future holds, I can’t tell you at this moment whether I’m going to comptroller for four years or forty more years. I certainly hope not, right? But I would say that uh, you know, I’m committed to this job, and that’s why I’m here. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here, and I think that uh, that that’s very clear.
Tribune: Do you have any members of your team that are looking into it is as you’re maintaining focus?
Mendoza: No, every single person that works for me is focused on leading this state through the worst fiscal crisis, which still continues to be a very intense crisis. There are people who have been trying to draft me to run for mayor, I can’t control what they do, again it’s again, you know, very flattering, it’s a high honor. But I keep telling every exactly which is what I’ve told you, including those who have called me to urge me to run for mayor, and that’s that my focus is the next 48 days. I mean, at the time that they called it was a different number, right, but I’m very focused on that election and you know, it’s nice that people think that but again, one race at a time. And the race that I’m running for right now is comptroller of the state of Illinois.
Senger: Would you endorse someone else to run for mayor? Rather than yourself because you’re running for comptroller?
Mendoza: We don’t even know who’s running for mayor yet, Darlene. There’s like 20 thousand people, maybe some people in this room besides the names that have been mentioned might throw their hat in the ring for mayor. It seems like it’s a free for all right now, but my focus is on this job. I’m not even going to entertain or worry about the mayor’s office from now until election day and this is the only job that I care about.