Incoming Illinois comptroller says she'd run in 2016

Associated Press
Posted1/8/2015 5:10 PM

CHICAGO -- Illinois' incoming comptroller - former businesswoman and onetime legislative candidate Leslie Munger - believes her lack of political experience is one of her draws as she readies to take over the office that writes the state's checks.

The Lincolnshire Republican will be appointed to the post, left vacant by the death of Judy Baar Topinka, after Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner takes office next week. Munger has said she wants to remain in the post for the four-year term, but would run in a 2016 special election. Lawmakers approved one Thursday.


"I believe it's good to have somebody outside of Springfield," she told the Chicago Tribune. "I believe more outside people who have real-life experience, who have to live under the things that our government is doing to us, I think that's a good thing because we know what real life is like."

Munger was a director at Helene Curtis Industries and later Unilever, overseeing U.S. hair care business for the companies from 1984 to 2001. She worked under former CEO Ron Gidwitz, who served on Rauner's campaign finance committee. After that, Munger said, she needed to give her career - and required travel - a second thought.

"I had young children at the time and at some point, I just decided it's too much, I'm gone too much, I need to go home," Munger told the newspaper. "I just decided it's time to step off the merry-go-round and raise my children."

Since then, she's largely focused on volunteer work. She also served on the board of the Riverside Foundation in Lincolnshire, which helps adults with disabilities.

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Munger made her first run for public office last year by challenging Democratic state Rep. Carol Sente, who first took office in 2009. Munger ran on a promise to never take a state-funded pension, not raise taxes and vote against another leadership term for House Speaker Michael Madigan.

She was backed, in part by Rauner, who is a Republican. He and his wife, Diana, each donated $10,600 toward Munger's campaign, which is the maximum allowed, according to The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald.

"I think people were impressed by how close it was," Munger told the Herald.

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Quinn appointed a former budget aide as an interim replacement after Topinka's death in December. Lawmakers have since disagreed about how long an appointee should stay in office. Legislators have also revived talk of combining the offices of comptroller and treasurer, which Munger and Rauner support. Legislators gathered for a one-day legislative session Thursday, where they approved a special election in 2016. Quinn supports an election.