At least part of the upcoming four-year term of comptroller of Illinois could be filled by someone of the people’s choosing. The governor Thursday set Jan. 8 – four days before he leaves office – for a special session of the General Assembly to get that process into motion. As the attorney general suggested, Gov. Pat Quinn is backing a special election in 2016 for the remainder of the term, presumably to be begun by a gubernatorial appointment. When Judy Baar Topinka died last week, she was both comptroller and comptroller-elect.
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The attorney general’s position is that Quinn must make an appointment for the current term, which ends Jan. 12, and that Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner may make an appointment for the new term. Madigan’s personal opinion is that a special election in 2016 would allow voters to choose a comptroller for the final two years of the term. Rauner this week said there’s no reason for that; that the appointment for the full four years is his to make.
“Reasonable heads should be able to figure out how we handle this issue. The idea that we resolve this in some way is necessary,” State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) said. “Whether we resolve it by having some agreement going forward, we resolve it by having a special election, or we resolve it by doing both of those things.”
In a joint statement, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) say:
“The Illinois Constitution requires the governor-elect to appoint a new comptroller to a four-year term. A partisan and constitutionally-dubious 11th-hour law would face a certain legal challenge and force the people of Illinois to endure a protracted legal battle that no one wants. The only constitutionally responsible choice is to allow the governor-elect to appoint a comptroller to a four-year term."