Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday afternoon named Jerry Stermer to replace late Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.
Stermer has been director of the governor's budget office since 2012. He was the Chicago Democrat's chief of staff during Quinn's first term and the longtime director of advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children.
“The sudden passing of Judy Baar Topinka left a hole in the hearts of the people of Illinois,” Quinn said in a statement. “While no one can replace Judy Baar Topinka, government must continue. Jerry Stermer is a respected and experienced budget expert who will carry out the duties of Comptroller with integrity and heart.”
Stermer will serve until Gov.-Elect Bruce Rauner takes office on Jan. 12, when Rauner will announce a full four-year replacement. Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans was on hand to swear Stermer into office.
"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," Rauner said in a statement released after the announcement. "I know Jerry Stermer will be well served by Nancy Kimme and the team in the comptroller’s office."
Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, on Thursday called for a special session of the Illinois Legislature to approve a special election to replace Topinka. While the appointment he makes Friday will be temporary, he also wants voters to have the option to choose her successor.
Topinka died earlier this month after having a stroke. She won a second term as comptroller during last month's general election.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Monday issued a ruling about Topinka’s successor. The governor’s staff notes that while Madigan sees two appointments – one for Quinn and one for Gov.-Elect Bruce Rauner – other legal experts believe that Quinn’s appointment will keep the comptroller job until there’s an election held.
Last week, Rauner said he wanted Quinn to appoint Topinka’s Chief of Staff Nancy Kimme.
The late comptroller was remembered at a memorial service Wednesday as a tough, honest leader with a signature sense of humor.
Crowds filled the Operating Engineers' Local 150 headquarters in Countryside to pay respects. Individuals included the state's top leaders, lawmakers, local leaders and Illinoisans who knew her for more than 70 years.