Nancy Drew Sheehan tries to get the point of her campaign across to strangers by pulling out a dollar bill.
"I ask them to show me where on there it says anything about Democrats or Republicans," said Sheehan, the partisan Democratic candidate for what she sees as a really nonpartisan post of state treasurer.
The job is managing a lot of those dollar bills - billions actually - in a way that earns the most interest and stimulates the most economic growth.
"We've got to stop looking at the state's money management as a Democratic or Republican issue," Sheehan said during a recent campaign swing through the Metro East area.
It isn't that there's anything wrong with her Republican opponent, state Sen. Judy Baar Topinka; it's just that Sheehan sees herself as comparatively more qualified, she said. Years ago it might not have mattered so much, but in today's competitive economic markets, knowledge of economics is imperative, said Sheehan, who studied at the London School of Economics.
It might be possible for an office holder to hire an expert, she allowed, but added, "The manager has got to lead by example. You've got to be a part of the change."
At 51, Sheehan, of Chicago, is an elected trustee of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and one of few Illinois politicians to garner more than a million votes without running for a statewide office. As its finance chairwoman, she oversees a $750-million-a-year budget to provide sewage service to 5 million people and an industrial equivalent of 5 million more.
But like Topinka, who is from Riverside in suburban Chicago, Sheehan is relatively unknown in Southern Illinois and running for a job that doesn't usually fire much excitement in the electorate. …