CHICAGO (WLS) --Jerry Stermer will succeed the late Judy Baar Topinka as Illinois comptroller, Gov. Pat Quinn announced on Friday.
Topinka, 70, died after a stroke on Wednesday, December 10, 2014. The longtime Illinois politician was re-elected to a second term as comptroller just last month.
Stermer, who was Quinn's budget director, will finish out the rest of Topinka's current term. He was installed immediately after the announcement.
"To make sure that we had a smooth transition, that everything would run in a proper way to carry out what's needed for the people of Illinois," Quinn said.
Stermer will "voluntarily resign" on January 12, the same day Gov.-Elect Bruce Rauner will be installed. Rauner will then make an appointment to the position. How long that person will serve is still up for debate.
"I don't believe that a legal fight on this issue is in the interest of the people of Illinois so Jerry has agreed to voluntarily resign on January 12th," Quinn said.
Republicans believe the appointment should last the full term - until 2019. But Democrats would like to see a special election in 2016. Quinn has called the General Assembly back to Springfield for a special session to consider the option. He wants comptroller to be on the November 2016 ballot, which would require lawmakers to pass a bill.
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.
"I accept this appointment to ensure that we maintain order and timely operations for state government," Stermer said.
Rauner had called on Quinn to appoint Topinka's longtime chief of staff, Nancy Kimme, as her replacement. Kimme was there for the announcement.
"To me, this is one of the lessons we all learned from Judy Baar Topinka. She was willing to cross party lines in order to do the right thing," Quinn said.
"A temporary appointment of Jerry Stermer I don't see as a poke at the incoming Governor," Senator Matt Murphy, (R), Palatine, said.
"I truly believe that that's what Judy would want. That the people make the selection to fill out her term," Quinn said.