The Peoria County Board Tuesday unanimously approved the appointment of Judge Jodi Hoos to the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s seat at a special meeting Tuesday.
Incumbent Jerry Brady died in June after a long illness.
Hoos worked in the state’s attorney’s office for over a decade, eventually working her way up to the chief felony prosecutor's division before ascending to the judge’s bench five years ago.
She said at a press conference Monday she doesn’t plan to make any major changes with the team currently prosecuting cases, many of whom she knows from her time in the state's attorney's office and on the bench.
That gave the Peoria NAACP reason for pause.
Sherry Cannon is the local NAACP chapter’s secretary. She said the state’s attorney’s office is resistant to expunging criminal records. She also holds them responsible for disproportionately high rates of African-American incarceration in Peoria County, and high rates of black children taken into foster care in Peoria County. She also said Peoria County has a low number of black employees and officeholders.
The NAACP sees Hoos’ appointment as a reinforcement of that status quo.
“We’re very disappointed that the voices of the black community was not taken into consideration into making this appointment, but we do plan to speak loudly and clearly at the ballot box in 2020," Cannon said.
Peoria County Board Chairman Andrew Rand said he discussed the appointment with Reverend Marvin Hightower, the president of the Peoria NAACP, several times during the nomination and interview process, including a two-and-a-half hour long in-person conversation in June.
Two people applied for the top prosecutor’s job. The bipartisan panel of county board members interviewing the candidates ultimately recommended Hoos, a white woman, over Peoria attorney Chris McCall, a black man. Rand then forwarded that recommendation to the full county board. McCall said he plans to run for office next year.
Peoria County Board member Phil Salzer says he thinks Hoos will take those concerns seriously and address diversity in the state’s attorney’s office.
“She listened to your message. What I’ve found out from her is, she is truly fair," he said.
A total of 10 people applied for the three county positions currently open. The nominees for Peoria County Clerk and Peoria County Board District 11 are expected to be announced and confirmed at a meeting on Thursday.