MARION — Williamson County will soon get a new circuit clerk. Williamson County Board accepted the resignation of Circuit Clerk Angie Elliott Kochan during its regular meeting Tuesday morning.
Before the commissioners had a chance to talk about Kochan’s resignation, she thanked them. “I wanted to tell you I appreciate the faith that you guys put in me when appointed me in 2015. I appreciate the support that I’ve had since I’ve been here. I feel like all four of us have worked together to make the county and my office better …,” she said.
County Board Chairman Ron Ellis said Kochan stepped into office at a difficult time at best. The office had faced a major theft by three employees. Circuit Clerk Stuart Hall, who was not implicated in any part of the incident, resigned in 2015, a short time after the employees were sentenced. Kochan was appointed to fill his vacancy.
“What you guys have accomplished over there in a relatively short period of time has been truly remarkable,” Ellis said. “Brent and Jim may have something to say, but on behalf of all the taxpayers of Williamson County, thank you for all that you did.”
“You came into, without going into details, an awful mess. The hours you guys put in, the findings you kept finding, is the reason your office has a good clean bill of health today,” Commissioner Brent Gentry said. “Whoever takes your place has got a gift to come into a good thing because of the hard work you guys put in.”
“We’re going to miss you. I have always felt in my heart that you were the right person for the right time for that office. I had the confidence that you could handle everything over there. You jumped into the fire when you came in,” Commissioner Jim Marlo said.
He added that having to deal with an election on top of the problems in the office was a lot of pressure.
When Kochan took office in fall 2015, an audit of the circuit clerk’s office handed down 47 recommendations needed to clean up processes and prevent another theft. Both the 2018 and 2019 audits showed no recommendations.
“When I came into office there were 47 audit recommendations. The recommendations that were there when I came in are now fixed,” Kochan said.
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She added that about $4.5 million goes to the circuit clerk’s office every year. Thanks to support from the county board, she was able to add individual staff positions, which created some checks and balances that were needed.
Civil filings were transitioned to an electronic filing system. Criminal cases can be completed electronically, and that system is up and running.
“There have been so many significant changes that I believe are in the taxpayers’ best interest,” Kochan said.
One of her most successful is a collection of unpaid fines and fees, something the county commissioners also wanted. The program does not cost taxpayers.
“As of this morning, we have collected $1.4 million. The money goes to local municipalities,” Kochan said.
Kochan said those things would have never been possible without her staff.
“I’ve got two great chief deputies, Rachel Moake and Amy Hobbs. I’ve got great clerks,” Kochan said. “I’m going to miss them.”
Kochan will have a new role working for Southern Illinois University.
Williamson County Democratic Party will make a recommendation for Kochan’s replacement. Because Kochan is a Democrat, her replacement has to be a Democrat.