Monique Williams: City Clerk candidate questionnaire

The Office of the City Clerk is one of the more transactional, community-facing offices in the city's government. They're also a major agent of democracy. We asked candidates about that, public meeting accessibility, and more.

Provided by Monique Williams
Provided by Monique Williams

The Harvey treasurer plays a key role in government. They’re the gate keeper of the city’s records and a huge agent of government transparency. Ahead of the April 4 election, we asked City Clerk candidates about transparency, making the budget election process more efficient, public meeting accessibility, and more. For those who responded, we’ve posted their answers on the HWH website. Questions were sent to candidates via email and responses have not been edited by newsroom staff. Answers have been posted as received.

During the petition filing process last fall for Harvey’s municipal elections, several candidates—largely those without any prior experience running for office—faced several bureaucratic challenges seeking public office. Some expressed confusion determining the required number of signatures to file, where to pick up, and drop off documents. How would you work to streamline the election process and make democracy more accessible?

I believe that it is a fundamental right to be able to run for office in one’s community. I want to implement a comprehensive website designed specifically for the Clerk’s office. The website would be the one-stop shop for accessing vital information, documents, and FOIA’S. I plan to ensure we have a direct line and linkage with the Cook County Clerk’s office to ensure potential candidates can access the most up-to-date Candidates Guide immediately. The Candidates Guide has all the information a prospective candidate would need to run for office. There are two that get issued each election cycle, one that comes from the State Board of Elections and One that comes from the County Board of Elections.

The Office of the Clerk has a public records archive to track open and closed requests. However, it’s been visibly neglected: dozens of records requests have not been logged the past four years. As the city’s recordkeeper, how will you ensure the public records archive is regularly updated?

I will make it a priority to pay attention to all functions of the Clerk’s office. I would like to include a section on the Clerk’s website for archives, historical information, and documentation. Unfortunately, residents haven’t been able to get their requests answered timely. If I am elected Clerk, requests will be answered, and residents will have a central location for unlimited access to their needs. The Clerks primary duty is keeping the records, so I plan to do the job very simply as I’m elected to.

If elected, how will you work to make public meetings more accessible?

I will follow all rules related to the open meetings act. In addition, I will make sure residents know all points for accessibility, in-person, phone calls, and internet. I will make sure I’m connecting with residents to notify them of all information that directly or indirectly affects their lives; this includes posting meetings on time and having a live stream with recordings for on- demand viewing with details about changes to existing ordinances and newly proposed ordinances on the Clerks dedicated website.

Scenario: A resident comes into the Clerk’s office one afternoon complaining about how cumbersome it is to navigate the city’s vehicle sticker process. They charge the information on the city’s website is confusing. Your office launches a campaign communications campaign to help residents understand the process. Briefly describe how you would approach a vehicle sticker process outreach campaign.

I will include step-by-step instructions for purchasing City Stickers on my website. I would make it a point to include videos and tutorials and have instructional pamphlets available for residents in the clerk’s office; These can also be mailed out to residents. During the period leading up to the sticker deadline, the topic of City Sticker purchase will be the center focus of the website. Hence, residents avoid having to pay additional fees.

The Clerk’s Office struggles with low operational capacity. If elected, how would you work to empower the Office to effectively handle and process public records requests in a timely, lawful manner?

If elected, I would advocate for the Mayor and City Council to allocate more funds and resources to help with operational capacity.

How will you work to engage young people in Harvey?

I love serving the youth. I believe that they are the key to everyone’s future. If elected, the youth will always be welcomed in my office. I have some extraordinary things in mind for youth engagement in the clerk’s office, so stay tuned. I can’t put it all out there, but I can say that the youth will have space for inclusion in my office.

Describe your leadership style.

My leadership style includes free will and not a dictatorship. The goal should always be teaching how to fish and not just handing out fish. Effective leadership should guide and not control. My primary goal as a mentor and leader is to help someone find and enhance their own gifts and use them effectively to reach whatever goals or milestones they have in mind. I don’t believe in teaching copy and paste. I want you to use your own thoughts and methods, not just Emulate me and my thoughts and processes; that will only take a person so far. We are all unique individuals. No two minds are the same; specific self-determination has to come from within. My mom always taught me that there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. Originality is the style of my leadership.

If elected, would you commit to biannual in-person, on-the-record, recorded interviews with the Harvey World Herald, with public participation?

The answer is a resounding yes; I will commit to biannual in-person, on-the-record interviews with public participation with the Harvey World-Herald. I believe in 100% transparency. I also believe in letting the needs of the residents in Harvey drive initiatives.

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