Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and his new running mate talked to reporters today at a downtown press conference. Quinn explained his surprise decision to tap the former Chicago schools CEO to be Lt. Governor.
“We have many talented people in the state of Illinois in the Democratic party,” the Governor said. “And i spoke to many of them, along the way. But I decided to pick Paul Vallas because I’ve known him a long time and he knows Illinois like the back of his hand.”
Vallas knows he’s stepping into a challenging situation. Even if Quinn can fend off what’s expected to be a formidable challenge from Republicans – hoping to retake the governor’s mansion – Quinn and his Lt. Governor face huge fiscal challenges.
“We know we have a lot of work to do,” Quinn said. “Paul’s a hard worker. I don’t think anyone in the state can deny that. And I work hard too. And we’re going to work hard for common, everyday people.”
Vallas, who left Chicago to reform Philadelphia and New Orleans public school systems, says he’s ready for a new challenge.
“I’m a public servant,” Quinn’s new running mate explained. “I tend to gravitate towards taking on big challenges. And that’s something Pat has done his entire life.”
The pressing need for Pension Reform appears to be a major focus, a former City Budget Director, weighing in on Illinois’ greatest challenge.
“I’ve always said that there are 2 phases to pension reform. the first phase is to address the issue longterm .. for future employees and those individuals who will be joining. and the second phase is obviously much tougher challenge. And that is to address exisiting retirees.”
Historically in Illinois, Lt. Governor’s don’t wield a lot of influence in office. But all indications are Quinn will utilize Vallas’ considerable communication and organizational skills.
“I see Paul as a partner, a team mate. Someone to work together with the rest of our team. That’s what the people want.”