The Edgar Administration Managing Government
Immediately after his election in November 1990, Governor Edgar began recruiting a team of seasoned, respected and professional men and women who would help him to manage government. As he was to say later, “As Governor, I get the credit for the job we do. But I’m only as good as my staff.”
An important part of Edgar’s staff was his Cabinet, which consisted of the directors of the code agencies as well as members of executive boards and commissions. These individuals were responsible for overseeing separate and distinct policy areas, service to the public, planning and regulation. In addition, the advisers who made up the Governor’s senior staff helped Edgar to shape policy and to set the tone and direction of his administration.
As a former staff member himself, Edgar knew the importance of assembling the most qualified team he could. He sought out experienced veterans of both state government and the private sector, many of whom he knew firsthand and trusted. Together, they would respond to the many challenges the state faced.
And no one on the Governor’s team was more important than the man whom Edgar had selected as his running mate in the 1990 election-state Sen. Bob Kustra.
Kustra was given unprecedented duties, including key roles in Edgar initiatives involving elementary, elementary, and higher education and the environment. The Governor tells Kustra that during the administration’s second term his role will be expanded to include responsibility as chief economic development adviser.
Jim Edgar and Bob Kustra decided early that their administration would be a true partnership, with the lieutenant governor shouldering unprecedented responsibilities. Elected together, they would govern together. Kustra brought a long record as a state legislator, educator and public servant to his role.
Shortly after taking office, Edgar demonstrated that his pledge to increase the responsibilities of the lieutenant governor was more than just campaign rhetoric. The Governor assigned Kustra to develop a program making social services available in local schools, so that children could deal with family and health problems that otherwise might go untreated and hinder their learning. Launched in six schools in 1992, Project Success is now available to each of the 3,200 elementary and middle schools in the state. Edgar considers the innovative program to be one of his administration’s most successful education initiatives.
With two decades of teaching experience, Kustra was a natural choice to help guide the Governor’s education policy. Kustra played a key role in drafting reform initiatives for the Chicago public schools. He spearheaded efforts to bring state-of-the-art computer technology to the classrooms and to use distance learning networks to enhance educational opportunities for students throughout the state. In higher education, Kustra was instrumental in developing legislation to streamline the bureaucracy and to return accountability to individual university campuses. In December 1996, the Governor appointed Kustra to chair the Illinois Board of Higher Education. On the human services front, Kustra headed a task force to improve the tracking of deadbeat parents and the collection of child support payments. Edgar also directed him to coordinate the state’s anti-drug efforts and to help shape Illinois’ agenda in the war against drugs.
Edgar and the Bureau of the Budget Director Joan Walters share a late-night laugh at the Capitol as they await action by the legislature on a budget record.
With some suggesting that an Edgar administration would merely be a continuation of James R. Thompson’s 14 years as governor, Edgar pledged as a candidate in 1990 that all directors of the code agencies would be replaced. Upon taking office, Edgar did just that, assembling a Cabinet that reflected the diversity of Illinois, the seasoned professionalism of some who came from within state government and the fresh perspective of those drawn from the private sector.
There were a number of firsts in Edgar’s appointments. Edgar named the first Hispanics in Illinois history to head agencies Rose Mary Bombela as director of the Department of Human Rights and Gilbert Ruiz as director of the Department of Financial Institutions. The Governor appointed Howard A. Peters III to direct the Department of Corrections, John R. Lumpkin, M.D., as director of the Department of Public Health and Audrey McCrimon to head the Department of Rehabilitation Services, the first African Americans to lead those agencies.
He named women to nontraditional positions Becky Doyle as director of the state agriculture department, Mary Gade as head of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Joan Walters as chief of his Bureau of the Budget. All were the first women to head those agencies. Edgar in 1997 also appointed Elena Kezelis as his chief legal counsel, the first woman to serve in that role for a governor.
The Governor poses in April 1996 for a photograph with his senior staff. Seated (clockwise from left): Bill Roberts, Joe Khayyat, Deno Perdiou, Andy Foster, Gene Reineke, Edgar, Joan Walters, Mike Lawrence, and Mike McCormick. Standing (from left): Janis Cellni, Grosboll, Steve Schnorf, Tom Faulkner and Howard Peters.
Five people served the Edgar administration as deputy chief of staff. Sally Jackson, who had been director of the Department of Employment Security under Governor Thompson and later president of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, brought management skills to the administration. Mike Belletire, who had worked in high-level positions in the Thompson administration and in the private sector and later became executive director of the Illinois Gaming Board, contributed experience in economic development, education and human services issues. Howard Peters, former Corrections director, was named deputy chief of staff in 1995. He was instrumental in the administration’s efforts to reform welfare and revolutionize the human services delivery system before being named secretary of the Department of Human Services in 1997. Andy Foster, who worked on President George Bush’s staff, advised Edgar on economic development issues before becoming deputy chief of staff during the Governor’s second term. Allen Grosboll, who had been Edgar’s top assistant at the Secretary of State’s office, advised the Governor on the environment, natural resources, agriculture and education throughout Edgar’s eight years in office. He was named deputy chief of staff in 1998.
The Governor convinced Joan Walters, who had been his first deputy Secretary of State in the early 1980s, to leave a job in Seattle, Wash., to become his director of the Bureau of the Budget. Her tenacity, knowledge of state government and unflagging spirit proved to be important assets as she led the efforts to balance the budget, downsize state government and reorganize the state’s human services agencies. She was appointed director of the Department of Public Aid in 1997. Stephen Schnorf, who had been director of driver services for Edgar in the Secretary of State’s office, director of the Department of Central Management Services and a key adviser to the Governor, succeeded Walters as the state budget director.
DCFS Director Jess Mcdonald was on the front line in reforming the state’s child welfare system. With Edgar, he worked to ensure that children’s rights counted in custody decisions.
Department on Aging Victor L. Wirth (1991-1992)
- Maralee I. Lindley (1992-1999)
Department of Agriculture
- Becky Doyle (1991-1999)
Department of Alcoholism and Subustance Abuse*
- James Long (1991-1994)
- Barbara Cimaglio (1994-1997)
Commissioner of Banks and Real Estate
- Jack Schaffer (1996-1999)
Commissioner of Banks and Trust Companies*
- Robert J. Piel (1991-1993)
- Richard N. Luft (1993-1995)
In 1991, Edgar announced Arthur F. Quern as his choice for chairman of the State Board of Higher Education during a visit to Illinois Wesleyan University. The Governor and Quern pushed reforms to allow students to finish their undergraduate education in four years.
Illinois Arts Council
- Richard E. Huff (1991-1993)
- Lori S. Montana (1995-1997)
- Kassie Davis (1997-1999)
Illinois Capital Development Board
- Robert B. Oxtoby, chairman (1991-1995)
- George Fleischli, chairman (1995-1999)
- Roger Sweet, executive director (1991-1995)
- Sam McGaw, executive director (1995-1999)
Illinois Commerce Commission
- Ellen C. Craig, chairman (1991-1994)
- Dan Miller, chairman (1994-1998)
- Richard L. Mathias, chairman (1998-1999)
- Phillip M. Gonet, executive director (1991-1994)
- Charles Fisher, executive director (1995-1999)
Illinois Community College Board
- Harry L. Crisp II, chairman (1991-1999)
- Cary A. Israel, executive director (1991-1994)
- Geraldine Evans, executive director (1994-1996)
- Joseph Cipfl, president (1997-1999)
- Don Adamski
- Richard Agin
- James Agnew
- Jack Aguero
- Nancy Alejandro
- Ruth Ann Alinger
- Doreen Anderson
- Robert Anstine
- Barbara Antonini
- Julie Applington
- Asta Arcickas
- Marcia Armstrong
- Fred Backfield
- Sandra Bahlow
- Marelda Baidy
- Robin Baima
- Linda Renee Baker
- Rosela Baker
- Maria Balderas
- Candice Baltusevich
- Joseph Banks
- Whitney Banks
- Jason Barabas
- Mona Bass
- Shelby Beall
- Sharon Bell
- Mike Belletire
- David Bender
- Mark Betka
- Greg Bishop
- Judy Black
- Lou Blackorby
- Trudy Blackwell
- Brenda Blasko
- Bernice Bloom
- Brittany Bluhm
- Timothy Bluhm
- Kara Boll
- Mark Boozell
- Kelly Bosie
- Brandy Bratten
- Jodi Brandt
- Anthony Breckenridge
- Valerie Brooks
- Jim Broussard
- Beverly Brown
- Judy Brown
- Malcolm Brown