SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ next comptroller said she knows there will never be another Judy Baar Topinka, but she is honored to follow in her footsteps.
On Monday, Leslie Munger, R-Lincolnshire, was named by Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner to fill the vacancy created by last month’s death of Topinka.
“I am extremely honored to be chosen for this role and to have a chance to continue the work of Judy Baar Topinka in areas including increased government transparency and getting our bills paid on time,” she said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon with Illinois News Network.
“As a fiscal conservative, I feel so lucky to have this chance to help our state at this critical time,” she said.
Munger said she’s thankful she’ll be working with Topinka’s staff.
Munger and Rauner support a proposal to combine the offices of state comptroller and state treasurer.
The proposal has become known as “Judy’s Amendment” in honor of Topinka, who advocated for the merger.
Munger, 58, said she is not interested in a political career.
Munger was born and raised in Joliet and is 20-year resident of Lincolnshire.
She ran for the 59th District seat in the state House in 2014, losing to incumbent Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills.
Munger earned an undergraduate business degree from the University of Illinois and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University. She and her husband, John, have two sons.
“No one can ever replace Judy Baar Topinka, but Leslie is the perfect candidate to continue building on Judy’s legacy,” Rauner said in a news release.
Analysts said Rauner’s choice of a free-market Republican with little statewide name recognition over establishment GOP candidates may signal a new direction.
“Maybe it’s his way of sending a message,” said Chris Mooney, director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at University of Illinois Springfield. “Maybe it’s a new way of doing business — a new broom sweeps clean, right?”
The Legislature comes into special session later this week and may take a look at the comptroller’s office.
Outgoing Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn believes there should be a special election for comptroller in 2016. Rauner has argued his appointee should serve for four years.
Mark Fitton is a reporter for the Illinois News Network.