SUSANA MENDOZA | 38
City Clerk-elect | Chicago
Ms. Mendoza has never had a problem mixing it up.
At 7, she dropped ballet in favor of soccer, then competed on boys’ teams through grade school. All-state on the girls’ soccer team in high school, she won a soccer scholarship to college.
When Ms. Mendoza was elected as a Democrat to the Illinois House at 28, she raised eyebrows by enlisting GOP support for her bills and later butted heads on budget issues with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
On May 16, she will be sworn in as Chicago city clerk and will face the tough politics of City Hall. The clerk’s job historically has been a marginal administrative post selling vehicle stickers and keeping City Council records. Her goal is to add heft, making records of council proceedings more available to the public.
“I think the office can provide some checks and balances that the city of Chicago has not seen in a long time,” she says.
But her smoothest path to success in her new job — and perhaps beyond — would be to not make waves, says Roosevelt University political science professor Paul Green.
“Two out of the last three city clerks went to prison,” he notes. “The best advice is to stay out of trouble. Boring is beautiful, baby.”