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Special election approved for comptroller: Outgoing Gov. Quinn signs bill as some Republicans cry foul

Pat Quinn on Saturday Ñ two days before he was to officially relinquish his position as governor to Republican Bruce Rauner Ñ signed legislation for a special election in 2016 for the office of comptroller.

The office was left vacant after the death of Republican Judy Baar Topinka last month. Topinka had won the general election race against Democrat Sheila Simon in November.

One of Quinn’s last acts drew the expected praise from Democrats and criticisms from Republicans.

State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13th), whose district extends east to the lake and includes portions as far west as the city’s Chicago Lawn neighborhood, said that a special election was the right choice.{{more}}

ÒMaking the electoral process fairer and more accessible has been the touchstone of my public service, so it’s self-evident to me that people, not politicians, need to decide who fills this four-year, elected position,” Raoul said. ÒWe also need to move toward consolidation to improve government efficiency and save the taxpayers money. But first, we should do the right thing and let voters choose a comptroller when they go to the polls in 2016.”

State Sen. Christine Radogno (R-41st), the Senate Republican leader, was opposed to a special election for comptroller. Quinn had appointed longtime aide Jerry Stermer to fill the vacancy until Rauner was sworn in on Monday. Former marketing executive Leslie Munger has been appointed and sworn in as state comptroller by Rauner on Monday.

ÒThis is not a huge constititutional issue,” said Radogno. ÒThis is nothing but a power grab.”

While Rauner became the state’s 42nd governor on Monday, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is advocating that the offices of treasurer and comptroller be combined. Topinka had approved a plan to merge the two offices.

ÒJudy Baar Topinka and I ran in 2010 on the platform of merging the two offices in order to save the state millions annually,” said Rutherford, who lost in his bid to become governor in last year’s primary to Rauner. ÒThe so-called ‘Judy Amendment’ should move forward.”

Quinn signed legislation that was put together by Senate President John Cullerton (D-6th) and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22nd).

With the signing of the bill, Munger is prevented from completing the four-year term of Topinka. She will have to run against a Democratic opponent in 2016. Munger has indicated that she will run in the special election.

While in support of a special election for comptroller next year, Raoul added that he supports combining the treasurer and comptroller offices.

ÒI’ll file a proposed constitutional amendment merging the comptroller and treasurer positions,” said Raoul. ÒWe can fully discuss and debate this advance in good government, and the people can vote on the amendment at the same time they choose someone to serve out the rest of the comptroller’s four-year term. In 2018, we can start realizing the benefits of consolidation for greater efficiency and saving to taxpayers.”

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