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Peoria County voters overwhelmingly vote to eliminate elected auditor position; Thomas says the battle is 'not over'

Peoria County Auditor Jessica Thomas at an October 2021 Peoria County Board meeting.
Tim Shelley
Peoria County Auditor Jessica Thomas at an October 2021 Peoria County Board meeting.

Peoria County voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly moved to eliminate the elected office of county auditor.

The referendum was the Peoria County Board's second attempt to eliminate the office. Voters narrowly rejected a 2018 referendum to do so.

The county board also voted last year to chop auditor Jessica Thomas' staff down to a single employee — Thomas herself.

"Your right to elect an auditor, which is provided for in state statute, is what this fight has been about," Thomas said in a statement Tuesday night. "The battle for your right is not over."

A majority of county board members argue the office is redundant to the external auditor required under state law, and eliminating the elected auditor's office will save money. The ballot question claimed a cost savings of $150,000 a year.

The referendum calls for elimination of the auditor's office after Thomas' current term ends in December 2024.

Thomas filed a lawsuit seeking to block the referendum, but Peoria County Judge James Mack twice declined to issue an injunction.

Thomas could still challenge the referendum post-election, per state law.

Jessica Thomas is a member of the WCBU Community Advisory Board.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.