Jesse began his political career by being elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1974 and he then served there for 14 years. In 1992 he became the Cook County Recorder of Deeds and won re-election to that post in 1996. Then came 1998 and his desire to run for Secretary of State.
At the time he was told by many he could not possibly win. Plus, the office was under a cloud of corruption that hearkened back to the days of George Ryan. Jesse White ran with the vow to clean up the office, make it more efficient and make the office more effective. He won in a landslide and has also won in landslide elections in 2002, 2006, and 2010.
Under his leadership, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office has become the largest and most diverse office of its kind in the country. The office provides more direct services to the citizens of Illinois than any other public agency. He has also implemented a number of initiatives to keep the roads of Illinois safe and helped to streamline Secretary of State offices that issue IDs, driver’s licenses, license plates and titles.
In 2007 Jesse White initiated a teen driver safety program that gave the state one of the top-ranked graduate driver license programs in the country. During the first full year of this program teen deaths due to car accidents dropped 40% in Illinois.
He has also worked to crack down on drunken driving. While working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Jesse White required that all first-time DUI offenders who want to obtain driving relief to install a breath alcohol ignition device in their cars.
Jesse White has also streamlined services conducted at the Secretary of State offices around the state. This has produced shorter wait times than have ever been recorded before and increased online usage among customers and constituents for years.
Finally, Jesse White has become passionate about organ and tissue donations, implementing the First Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor Registry. This makes a person’s decision to donate organs or tissue legally binding and, since it was first implemented in 2006, more than 5 million people have registered.