By Virginia Young
Nicole Galloway, a certified public accountant and the Democratic county treasurer in Boone County, was tapped by Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday to replace the late Tom Schweich as state auditor.
Nixon said Galloway, 32, was "uniquely qualified" because of her background as a certified fraud examiner and her work in both the public and private sector. He said she would bring "an experience and energy level and proven integrity that are second to none."
The appointment was questioned by some Democrats, who had hoped Nixon would make history by appointing an African-American, and some Republicans, who contended that Galloway's party affiliation will jeopardize her role as taxpayers' watchdog over the administration of Nixon, a fellow Democrat.
Galloway promised to be independent.
"You have my commitment that I will never forget who I'm working for, and that's the hardworking taxpayers and citizens of Missouri," she said at a news conference in the governor's office.
Galloway will fill out Schweich's term, which ends in January 2019. She said she plans to seek a full term when the position is on the ballot, in November 2018.
A Fenton native, Galloway was appointed Boone County treasurer by Nixon in April 2011 and won a four-year term in November 2012. She also serves on the board of the Missouri Technology Corp., which nurtures start-up businesses. Before becoming Boone County treasurer, she worked at Shelter Insurance Cos. and Brown Smith Wallace LLC, an accounting firm in Creve Coeur.
Schweich, a Republican who was running for governor, committed suicide Feb. 26. John Watson, a top deputy to Nixon, has filled the auditor's job on an interim basis. He will resign the week of April 27, and Galloway will take office then. She said she plans a full review of the office before deciding on any staffing changes.
Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Jonathon Prouty said he was disappointed that the governor appointed a Democrat. Prouty said the auditor "should serve as an advocate for the people of Missouri by casting a critical eye towards the governor's administration, but Nicole Galloway is entirely beholden to Jay Nixon."
However, Republican Sen. Kurt Schaefer of Columbia, who represents Boone County, said he knows Galloway and expects that "she'll do a fine job. She's treasurer now, and that has some level of auditing."
Asked if he had any concern that she would do Nixon's bidding, Schaefer said: "It's extremely important she exercise independent judgment. There's no reason not to give her the benefit of doubt."
No African-American has ever held one of the six statewide offices of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor or attorney general.
Among the African-Americans whose names were floated for the post were St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green and House Assistant Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City.
Asked Tuesday what he would say to those who had hoped he would appoint an African-American, Nixon said: "There were a wide group of folks that were looked at. I think Nicole's qualifications speak for themselves. She's just the best person for the job, period."
Green released a statement congratulating Galloway on the appointment.
Green said she was honored to have been "short-listed" for the job. She said that when she received a call from the governor Tuesday "telling me of the closeness of the decision, and of his final choice, I felt humbled and honored."
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said she was disappointed. "This was the opportune time for the Democrats to show a certain level of diversity statewide," Nasheed said.
Galloway holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of Missouri and a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics and economics from Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. She lives in Columbia with her husband, Jon Galloway, a former press secretary to state Treasurer Clint Zweifel. The Galloways have two sons, William, 3, and Benjamin, 18 months.
Galloway made news last year when, as a member of the board of the County Employees' Retirement Fund, she pushed to expand benefits to members' same-sex spouses. The board voted to recognize same-sex couples who were wed in states where such marriages are legal. Galloway said the move brought the plan in line with court rulings.
Alex Stuckey of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
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