COLUMBIA — Dan Atwill, a Democrat and Columbia attorney, was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon to succeed Ed Robb as Boone County presiding commissioner.
Robb, a Republican who was elected to the position in 2010, died Sept. 24.
The announcement came before Republican and Democratic central committees had a chance to make a recommendation for the commissioner. The committees were still accepting applicants and had planned to screen them next week and send recommendations to the governor.
"We hadn't made a recommendation, but I think he will do a fine job," Phyllis Fugit, chairwoman of the Boone County Democratic Central Committee, said.
Atwill, a partner of the law firm Atwill & Montgomery, said his 40 years of problem-solving as an attorney, would serve him well as presiding commissioner.
"I look forward to serving the citizens of Boone County," Atwill said.
Atwill graduated from MU with a bachelor's degree in 1969 and a juris doctorate in 1971. He began his legal career in active duty with the Air Force, serving as a captain in the Judge Advocate General's Corps.
Atwill said he would be conducting an informational tour over the next two to three weeks to learn from elected officials, prosecutors, courts, the sheriff, the business community and others about problems and issues affecting Boone County.
"Columbia has been very good to me, and I feel this is a way to pay back some of the benefits I've received," Atwill said.
Atwill will serve as the presiding county commissioner under Nixon's appointment until the 2012 general election, when he plans to seek a two-year term in the job. An election for a four-year term will occur in 2014.
Bondi Wood, who had planned to seek the Democrats' nomination for presiding commissioner in 2010 but was disqualified after missing a paperwork deadline, said she first met Atwill several years ago while working on a campaign for another Democratic candidate.
"He's a good listener. He's a reasonable man. He lays out all the options before taking action," Wood said.
Wood earlier said she didn't believe Nixon would give any committee's recommendations much consideration.
"(Nixon)'s going to look at if they supported him in his candidacy and if they have won an election or have the potential to win an election," Wood said. "I think he'll pick on those two criteria."
Atwill said he provided both financial and organizational support for Nixon during his 2008 campaign.
Cheri Reisch, vice chairwoman of the Republican Central Committee, criticized Nixon's quick decision.
"The Republican Central Committee is highly disappointed that the governor did not wait for recommendations from the committee," Reisch said.
“I am confident that Dan Atwill can provide the leadership needed as presiding commissioner, and I am pleased to appoint him to this position," Nixon said in a news release. He added that he appreciated Robb's leadership as the former presiding commissioner and as a state legislator.
Atwill will be sworn in as presiding commissioner 3 p.m. Friday in the Commission Chambers of the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center.
Missourian reporter Alicia Stice contributed to this story.