PEORIA — To smiles and two standing ovations, Rachael Parker was sworn in Monday morning as Peoria County clerk.
"I know there's many folks whose shoulders I'm standing on today," said Parker, the first African American to hold the post. "... This is a bold statement for Peoria County and I just hope there's many more to follow."
She was appointed earlier this month by the County Board to succeed longtime county official Steve Sonnemaker, who died June 14 after a brief illness.
With her family watching from the front rows and the courtroom filled to standing room capacity with county officials and prominent members of the African American community, Parker took the oath of office from Alicia Washington, the first black woman in the circuit to be judge.
"There's some Mondays that you want to remember," Washington said with a smile before Parker took the oath.
Parker listed continuing the office's front-line work with residents as a top priority.
"Customer service is going to be key," she said, citing her attention to such issues as a small business owner.
Her appointment lasts through the 2020 election when voters will select a candidate to serve out the remainder of Sonnemaker's term through December 2022.
Parker has served since 2010 as a member of the County Board for District 5, which covers parts of Central Peoria and the East Bluff. She has also worked in economic development roles at the cities of Peoria and Chillicothe and operates her own business, Sweet Cakes by Rachael.
County Board members now have 60 days to fill her position on the board with another Democrat living in the district.