Judy Baar Topinka doesn’t seem to be slowing down after four years as Illinois comptroller.
As comptroller, she literally holds the state’s various checkbooks, paying the bills for Illinois, which when she took office, was billions of dollars and months behind. It still is, to some extent but she says it’s better than it was.
“We try and pay these bills and quickly as possible,” she says.”We try and get our not for profits taken care of, our small businesses taken care of, to expedite those folks who are hanging by a thread.”
In 2006, while state treasurer, she ran for governor against Rod Blagojevich and lost. The Republican candidate also served in the state legislature for 15 years.
She says she’s serious about reforming her office. She claims credit for modernizing the comptroller’s website, opening up the state’s checkbook, for citizens to search online.
She also puts online the information her office gets from individual towns and cities.
The former journalist, turned politician says in a second term, she’ll push harder for a constitutional amendment, to combine her office with the treasurer’s and says she’ll continue to support ideas from all political corners.
“I don’t care where I get the idea from, they can be Republican, they can be Democrat, they can be vegetarian, they can be the dog and cat society. I don’t care,” she says. “We’ll take it if it’s a good idea. If it’ll work and save us money, we’re going to run with it.”
Topinka is often labeled a maverick of the GOP, breaking with traditional Republican positions on key issues. She’s is an outspoken advocate for gay rights, including supporting marriage for same sex couples.
She also opposes a sudden repeal of the state’s income tax increase put into place four years ago. She says doing that would give the state a heart-attack fiscally, and make the backlog of unpaid bills grow even more.
Her opponent in this election is current Lt. Governor Sheila Simon.