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Quinn calls special session on comptroller vacancy

In the waning days of his administration, Gov. Pat Quinn wants lawmakers back in Springfield Jan. 8 for a special session to set up a 2016 election for Illinois comptroller.

The announcement follows a call earlier this week by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who said voters should have a hand in choosing a successor to Judy Baar Topinka. Topinka, 70, died suddenly last week after complications from a stroke.

“Judy Baar Topinka’s passing has not only left us heartbroken — the people of Illinois have been left without their elected representative in the Comptroller’s Office,” Quinn said in a statement. “Nobody but Judy Baar Topinka was elected to do this job. That’s why it’s so important that voters have the soonest possible opportunity to elect their Comptroller. Holding a special elect is the right thing to do.”

Topinka was elected to another four-year term in November, but the term she was completing does not end until next month.

Madigan said Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner should get to fill the four-year vacancy that will be created when Topinka fails to take the oath of office Jan. 12. She also said Quinn should get to fill the vacant office in the meantime.

That mostly mirrored Rauner’s own analysis. But Madigan also said voters should get to vote for a comptroller in 2016, calling it a “fundamental principle in a democracy that the people should elect the officers who represent them.” Another election would follow in 2018 if lawmakers follow Madigan’s proposal.

A Rauner spokesman said earlier this week a special election in 2016 would be problematic. The state constitution requires the governor to appoint someone to a four-year term, he said.