SALINE COUNTY -- Jimi Williams-Cox, owner of a local OHV park and the sister of Saline County Board president Jay Williams, was installed as the new Saline County Clerk on Wednesday night.
The Saline County Board approved Williams-Cox's appointment 9-2-2. Board members Allan Porter and Bruce Tolley voted "no" while board member Danny Gibbs and board president Jay Williams abstained from voting.
Roger Craig, the county clerk elected in November, died Dec. 12, only about two weeks after taking office. Williams-Cox will hold the office for two years, until the November 2020 election.
Gibbs said he abstained because his daughter was "improperly" laid off from the Saline County Clerk's office, and he did not want his vote to have an influence on the outcome of a new county clerk who was not involved in the layoff.
Williams said he did not vote because Williams-Cox is his sister.
One county resident tried to stop the appointment Wednesday night and convince the board to hold a special election instead.
However, Kim Wright was shut down before she could make her case, as the board moved to appoint Williams-Cox and a second was quickly called to vote without discussion.
After the vote, Wright was permitted to continue. She said the board could appoint a temporary county clerk, and then put the seat up for voting at the April 2 general consolidated election.
Wright, who has served as a Democratic election judge, said she talked with representatives from both the Illinois Attorney General's office and the Illinois State Board of Elections, all of whom assured her that Saline County could make a temporary appointment and then hold a special election.
"It would be more democratic and more representative than just this group deciding it," Wright told board members.
Because Craig was a Republican, the Saline County Republican Central Committee had the right to nominate his replacement. The committee met last week to interview seven candidates who were interested in the appointment, and Williams-Cox emerged as the top vote-getter.
After Wednesday's meeting, Williams-Cox said she is looking forward to the challenges of the job.
"I think the biggest challenge will be learning all the duties of the office, but I'm a fast learner," she said. "I have a lot of relevant experience. I worked for the Harrisburg school system for 18 years, handling things like being their purchasing agent, accounts payable, payroll, bid and grants, pretty much everything business-wise."
Williams-Cox also has spent just shy of 10 years as business secretary for Harrisburg First Baptist Church.
In between those two jobs, she finished her degree and started Williams Hill Pass OHV Park and Campground, which she continues to operate.
Besides naming Williams-Cox to the county clerk's seat, board members also heard remarks from board member Allan Porter regarding the county's financial situation.
Porter said he has an idea to save the county about $120,000 annually and would like to discuss it with other board members. He said he thought Wednesday's special meeting might not be an appropriate time to bring up the subject, but that the county needs to make changes because of declining revenues.