The two Democratic candidates for Peoria County Clerk bring different philosophies on how to improve the office's operations.
Incumbent Rachael Parker was appointed after R. Steve Sonnemaker died last summer.
She said there are internal tensions in the office between the vital records and recorder's divisions that merged in 2016. By working to healing those divides, she said there will be happier employees who can better serve the public.
"My career has been like a puzzle. I've been able to use all the pieces that I've learned in other jobs and use those skills in the job I have today," she said. "I am not coming to stand in someone else's shadow. I am coming to stand on my own stage and to shine my own light and to allow the employees in my office to shine their own lights."
Previously, Parker served on the Peoria County Board for more than eight years. She's also worked in economic development roles in Peoria and Chillicothe, and ran her own small businesses.
She faces Gabe McLeod, a 12-year veteran of the county clerk's office, in the March primary.
He said it's important to increase the office's transparency by digitizing records and making them easily available online.
"I want to continue to lead the office into the 21st century, and build upon the foundation I created to make our operations more efficient, our services more accessible, and protecting our community's most valuable records, all with a fiscally conservative approach," he said.
As an example, McLeod said he implemented a new system that greatly reduced the time needed to process marriage licenses.
The Peoria County Clerk's Office manages birth, death, and marriage records. It also maintains land records, assesses property tax rates, and processes various business licenses.
No Republicans filed to run for the office.
The two candidates spoke Saturday at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria at the Peoria Public Library North Branch.