The first woman ever elected as Chicago City Clerk
Susana A. Mendoza was sworn in for her second term as Chicago City Clerk on May 18, 2015, and was the first woman ever elected to the Office of the City Clerk.
She successfully transitioned 1.3 million customers away from an inefficient and archaic seasonal Chicago City Vehicle Sticker sales program dating back 105 years — plagued by tremendously long lines and guaranteed headaches — to a streamlined Year-Round Sales program, modeled after the Illinois Secretary of State’s license plate renewal program. This historic change resulted in better customer service at lower taxpayer cost.
She also took on the horrendous puppy mill industry and won. Working closely with animal rights groups, primarily the Puppy Mill Project, Clerk Mendoza spearheaded and passed the Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Ordinance, banning Chicago pet stores from selling dogs, cats or rabbits unless those animals are sourced from humane shelters or animal rescue organizations. This ordinance is intended to shut off the pipeline of horribly abused puppy mill animals coming into the City, and places Chicago as a national leader in humane and compassionate legislation toward animals.
HIGHLIGHTS AS CHICAGO CITY CLERK
The Office of the Chicago City Clerk had never undergone such significant changes in its 150-year history. Susana was not your typical ‘go-along, get-along’ politician as City Clerk. Her leadership style is one of getting things done. Therefore, her Office was laser-focused on the following:
- Improving customer service at lower taxpayer cost
- Eliminating fraud
- Increasing compliance
- Cutting wasteful spending
- Constantly innovating through the use of technology
In five years as City Clerk, Susana laid out a strong foundation and new vision for the Office of City Clerk by implementing smart, aggressive, and bold government policies. The following accomplishments showcase how Susana was a strong and independent advocate for Chicagoans (and their pets).
Successfully transitioned 1.3 million customers away from an inefficient and archaic six-week seasonal Chicago City Vehicle Sticker Sales program dating back 105 years. With the program plagued by tremendously long lines and guaranteed headaches, Clerk Mendoza spearheaded the new Year-Round Sales program and modeled it after the Illinois Secretary of State’s License Plate Renewal program.
“I took office at the very start of the 2011 season. I brought my senior staff together and I asked them, ‘Why do we sell stickers this way every year?’ No one had a real answer. Someone ventured to say, ‘Well that’s the way it’s always been done.’ This was not an acceptable answer to me. If something isn’t working, it needs to be fixed.” –Susana Mendoza
By streamlining, modernizing, rooting out waste and fraud, and implementing the Year-Round Sales program, Clerk Mendoza generated over $50 million in new revenue for the City of Chicago!
While all previous city clerks have had legislative authority, that power was never used as an advocacy tool. In 2014, Clerk Mendoza changed that.
Utilizing her 11 years of experience as a state legislator, Clerk Mendoza led a successful effort in the City Council to approve landmark legislation to reduce animal abuse and protect consumers in the City of Chicago.
“For the puppy mill industry, Chicago is officially off limits.” –Susana Mendoza
The Companion Animal and Consumer Protection Ordinance banned the sale of puppy mill pets in retail stores in the City of Chicago. It passed the City Council by a vote of 49-1, no easy task in the face of out of state opposition from well funded puppy mill industry lobbyists. Inspired by Clerk Mendoza’s groundbreaking legislation, Cook County followed the City’s lead enacting its own ban.
Among animal advocates, Chicago is considered a national leader when it comes to protecting the pets that give us so much joy and companionship.
A first of its kind data sharing relationship negotiated by Clerk Mendoza with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office is helping to make sure ALL Chicago motorists pay their fair share.
“By collecting and confirming VIN data, we not only have a means of transitioning to Year-Round Sales, but also a way to prevent fraud and find those people who have not been paying their fair share of the Wheel Tax.” –Susana Mendoza
Added fraud prevention features like individual make, model, VIN# and license plate number, essentially made stolen stickers a thing of the past, as they would now be useless to would-be thieves.
Improvements in technology, additional fraud prevention features and collaboration with the Secretary of State’s Office delivered more than $4.5 million in new, sustainable annual revenue, which is dedicated to maintaining and improving City streets and alleys.
Calling the Office of the Chicago City Clerk was once a frustrating customer service experience that often yielded no results for the caller. That all changed when Clerk Mendoza created the Office’s first-ever customer call center. The results were immediate. In only 31 days, customer service specialists answered nearly 40,000 calls from Chicago motorists with wait times of just seconds.
“On my watch, never again will customer calls to the Office of the City Clerk go unanswered.” –Susana Mendoza
Clerk Mendoza cut annual overtime spending in the Office by 70 percent.
In addition, she voluntarily reduced the Office’s budget and personnel payrolls by 10%. In 2002, the Office of the City Clerk was over twice the size. Under her leadership, staff numbers have been dramatically right-sized as the Office moves toward a model that more closely resembles an efficient business.
“We hear a lot of talk about doing more with less and my Office is doing just that. Since 2002, the Office of the City Clerk staff has been reduced from 141 employees to fewer than 100. That is a 30 percent reduction in full-time employees.” –Susana Mendoza
In 2012, Clerk Mendoza launched EZ>BUY – the first online purchasing application for the City Clerk’s Office. With the full deployment of the Year-Round Sales program, city vehicle sticker sales more than doubled because of EZ>BUY online sales, setting a record high.
It’s my stated goal to be the most innovative and tech-savvy office in the nation and this [mobile EZ-BUY] is another step toward that. These improvements will be a benefit to our customers and our Office as we seek to increase the online sales of our products.” –Susana Mendoza
Today, the ChiCityClerk.com website and EZ>BUY application have been overhauled to be 100% mobile responsive. The new look and mobile usability is more intuitive for users to find critical City Clerk information and purchase city vehicle stickers, residential guest passes, or dog licenses. These technology innovations have dramatically improved customer service and reduced product delivery times.
Clerk Mendoza pledged on day one to make her Office the most tech-savvy, social media rich office in the country.
Approximately 1,500 to 2,500 pieces of legislation are referred or passed at each of the monthly City Council meetings. To help taxpayers connect with their aldermen and track legislation, Clerk Mendoza created the first-ever online City Council News Central at www.chicityclerk.com.
“Council News Central is a great resource to follow what is going on in your City Council and join in the Twitter conversation.” –Susana Mendoza
City Council News Central features:
- Access to an interactive City Council alderman seating chart
- Social chat links to connect constituents with their elected officials via Facebook and Twitter
- Support from City Clerk staff via the social media hashtags #chicouncil and #clerkanswers
- Watch City Council proceedings and legislation being introduced via live streaming video
ACCOLADES AND HONORS
Presented by Chicago NOW at their Women Who Dared event for women who are making a positive impact on the women and girls in the City of Chicago. The event is an opportunity to highlight the leaders of the City’s feminist community.
Presented by Harvard Kennedy School as part of their Innovations in American Government Awards for the City Clerk’s Year-Round Chicago City Vehicle Sticker Sales program – the program is part of an exemplary group of programs that represent the cutting edge in government policies, initiatives, and best practices.
“Year-Round Chicago City Vehicle Sticker Sales shifted more than one million motorists from an inefficient six-week seasonal sales system to a program where residents renew their vehicle stickers throughout the year. The result is a modernized and streamlined system that generates $120 million annually for the city.” -Innovations in American Government Award
Presented by PAWS Chicago for her efforts in introducing and passing The Companion Animal & Consumer Protection Ordinance that prohibits pet stores from selling puppy mill dogs, cats and rabbits from inhumane, for-profit breeders.
Presented by the DNA Saves – the non-profit advocacy group created by Mr. & Mrs. Sepich – the Katie’s Hero Award is an honor given to individuals for leadership in solving and preventing crime by supporting legislation to expand the use of forensic DNA technology.
“Throughout my 11 year career in the House, this is the legislation I am most proud of, the one I know will save countless lives. I am honored to receive the Katie’s Hero Award and will continue to speak out and advocate for the collection of DNA upon felony arrests.” –Susana Mendoza
Presented by Roosevelt University in recognition of her valuable contribution to the Overdose Prevention Act – Naloxone.
“As State Representative, I was proud to work with my colleagues and sponsor legislation that has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives and break down the stigma of overdose.” –Susana Mendoza