Jesse White (politician)

Jesse White (politician) bigraphy, stories - American politician

Jesse White (politician) : biography

June 23, 1934 –

Jesse Clark White (born June 23, 1934) is a Democratic American politician. He is currently the 37th and second-longest serving Secretary of State of Illinois, after James A. Rose, and the first African American to hold this position.

White was born in Alton, Illinois. He attended Alabama State University, where he played baseball and basketball, and he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1957. He served in the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army from 1957–1959. In May 1995, White was inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. He was an all-city baseball and basketball player at Chicago’s Waller High School (now Lincoln Park High School) and was inducted into the Chicago Public League Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in June 1995. In 1999, he was inducted into the Alabama State University Sports Hall of Fame.

In 1959, White founded the Jesse White Tumbling Team to serve as a positive alternative for children residing in the Chicago area. Since its inception, more than 10,700 young men and women have performed with the team.

White served as a paratrooper in the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division and as a member of the Illinois National Guard. He played minor league professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs organization, which was followed by a 33-year career with the Chicago Public Schools system as a teacher and administrator.

White became a political protégé of longtime Cook County Board President and 42nd Ward Democratic Committeeman George Dunne. White was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1974 and served for 16 years. He was elected Recorder of Deeds of Cook County, Illinois, in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. White was elected Secretary of State of Illinois in 1998, was re-elected in 2002, 2006, and 2010. In recent years he has also served as Democratic Committeeman of Chicago’s 27th Ward.

Electoral history

  • 2010 Race for Secretary of State of Illinois
    • Jesse White (D) (inc.), 70%
    • Robert Enriquez (R), 27%
  • 2006 Race for Secretary of State of Illinois
    • Jesse White (D) (inc.), 62%
    • Dan Rutherford (R), 34%
  • 2002 Race for Secretary of State of Illinois
    • Jesse White (D) (inc.), 69%
    • Kristine O’Rourke Cohn (R), 29%
  • 1998 Race for Secretary of State of Illinois
    • Jesse White (D), 57%
    • Al Salvi (R), 43%

As Secretary of State

First elected to Secretary of State of Illinois in 1998, White was re-elected in 2002 by winning all 102 counties and garnering more than 2.3 million votes, the largest vote total by any candidate for Illinois statewide office in a quarter of a century. In 2006, White was re-elected to a third term, having received 63 percent of the vote statewide. White was elected to a fourth term in 2010, the leading vote-getter in the entire state.

White has been an advocate on traffic safety issues. In 2007, he initiated teen driver safety legislation giving Illinois one of the top-ranked graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs in the county. In the first full year of the new law, teen fatal crashes in Illinois dropped by over 40 percent.

White has also worked to crack down on DUI. He partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) on key DUI legislation. Effective January 1, 2009, the new law requires all first-time DUI offenders who wish to obtain driving relief to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) on their vehicles. MADD called this one of the most important pieces of DUI legislation passed in Illinois in several years.

Since taking office White has worked to improve truck safety and the CDL licensing process. In his first year in office, White initiated a comprehensive highway safety package to tighten up the rules and regulations of the CDL licensing process. Most recently, White implemented a key policy change beginning May 1, 2008 in which out-of-state Commercial driver’s license holders moving to Illinois must take and pass the written and road tests before they are issued an Illinois CDL. Illinois was the first state in the nation to require these tests for licensed CDL holders moving from another state. The policy change has received praise from law enforcement and trucking industry representatives.