Aurora business consultant Robert Enriquez formally announced Monday he'll run as a Republican for Illinois secretary of state.
Enriquez said he would use his business experience to make technological improvements in the secretary of state's office with a goal of saving money and making it more efficient. He also echoed the popular campaign theme of promising more transparency in government.
"I believe we must do everything we can to ensure Illinois citizens believe in their government," said Enriquez, who announced his candidacy at the Hotel Allegro in Chicago. "One way to do that is with complete transparency. Citizens must have every opportunity to see what their government is doing with their money - and what path government is taking."
Enriquez said he would start by putting the entire secretary of state's office budget online for public scrutiny. "I want to know - where exactly does the money go?" he said. "I'm after transparency on top-heavy management. Some of the people who work for the secretary of state's office, what do they actually do?"
If he wins the GOP nomination, Enriquez will face three-term incumbent in Jesse White, who won his last re-election four years ago with almost two-thirds of the vote statewide. White was widely credited with cleaning up the secretary of state's office and diminishing its use in political fundraising since replacing George Ryan in 1998.
Enriquez, however, associated the incumbent with the tainted status quo in Illinois politics. "For so many years now we've been handing a pass to politics as usual," Enriquez said. "Can we as Illinoisans do better to clean up?"
Outside of business, Enriquez serves on the Illinois Human Rights Commission. He is also producing and narrating a bilingual gang-prevention video called "When Gangs Don't Kill You," aimed at Hispanic junior-high students.
A native of Honduras, Enriquez came to the United States at 13 and was later naturalized and served in the U.S. Marines in the '80s. He lives in Aurora with his wife, Dania Enriquez Torres, and their four children.
No other Republicans have announced intentions to run for the seat. The filing period runs from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2, and the primary election is Feb. 2