CHICAGO (CBS) -- Gov. Pat Quinn has tapped his budget director, Jerry Stermer, as temporary successor to the late Judy Baar Topinka as state comptroller.
Stermer will serve less than a month in office until Topinka's term expires on Jan. 12, when Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner will be sworn in, and gain the power to appoint someone to serve at least part of the four-year term to which Topinka was elected last month. Quinn said he was trying to avoid a legal battle, so Stermer agree to depart the comptroller's office next month, allowing Rauner to tap his own successor.
However, Quinn also has moved to have state lawmakers vote on legislation that would set up a special election for the comptroller's office in 2016, so voters can choose someone to finish out the final two years of the term.
Stermer, 71, originally joined Quinn's office as chief of staff after Quinn took over for Rod Blagojevich when the former governor was impeached and removed from office. Stermer stepped down as Quinn's chief of staff for an ethics violation in 2010, after he admitted he "inadvertently" sent campaign-related emails from a state computer. Quinn rehired him two months later as a senior adviser, and later promoted him to budget director.
As comptroller, Stermer will be responsible for handling the state's checking account, and paying state bills. He said he will not accept any state pension bumps in connection with the brief appointment.
Stermer said Topinka's chief of staff, Nancy Kimme, has agreed to stay on in that role.
Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf applauded the decision to keep Kimme as chief of staff. Rauner had urged Quinn to appoint Kimme as Topinka's successor through the end of her current term.
"Appointing a temporary placeholder and keeping Judy Baar Topinka's staff in place is an appropriate decision and will ensure continuity of services for the people of Illinois – for that I thank the governor. I know Jerry Stermer will be well served by Nancy Kimme and the team in the comptroller's office," Schrimpf said.
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