Gov. Pritzer names new IDES Director

The Illinois Department of Employment Security has a new director. (Photo courtesy: IDES/Facebook)

By Dave Dahl

SPRINGFIELD – A long wait for unemployment benefits. A long wait on the phone. At least one security breach.

The governor’s choice to lead the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Kristin Richards, is in for a “baptism by fire,” in the words of State Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield).

IDES’ problems have burst into the news with the pandemic. 

“There needs to be enough people there to handle the load of calls,” says McClure, adding that a new callback system – in lieu one that has clients on hold – is likely to leave clients waiting days before the call comes. And, McClure says, if that person’s in the shower, they go to the back of the line.

McClure says he’d commit to spending money to hire more staff, if only he knew what exactly was needed. “We are left in the dark about just about everything, despite the fact that we send in Freedom of Information requests, despite the fact that we call the governor’s office, despite the fact that we call IDES we are just not given the information.”

Richards has been chief of staff to the president of the Senate.

Dave Dahl can be reached at 


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