URBANA — An experienced, bilingual accountant is likely to be sworn in early this week as the next Champaign County treasurer.
County Board Chairman Giraldo Rosales told The News-Gazette that the board will be asked to confirm his choice of Marisol Hughes for treasurer at a special meeting Tuesday.
Pending confirmation by the Champaign County Board, Hughes will be sworn in as treasurer Tuesday night and serve on an interim basis until after the Nov. 3 election, when a new treasurer will be elected to fill the rest of the four-year term of former Democratic county Treasurer Laurel Prussing, who resigned Jan. 31.
Hughes would also become the Democrats’ slated candidate for county treasurer in the November election, according to Rosales.
A native of Ecuador now living in Champaign, the 51-year-old Hughes was one of about a dozen applicants seeking to be appointed treasurer after Prussing resigned, Rosales said.
He’s been keeping the names of applicants confidential over the past month, as issues arose over advertising to fill the vacancy and how the appointee would be selected, but he was meeting with party leaders Friday about his choice.
Hughes: ‘Administrative skills will serve me’ well
Prussing’s replacement must be a fellow Democrat, and Rosales said some applicants were weeded out based on their party voting records, and a few worked in fields unrelated to the work of the treasurer’s office.
Rosales said Hughes would be the first Latina to serve as Champaign County treasurer.
“This is important to me because my platform as chair has been to bring in diverse stakeholders that reflect our county,” Rosales said. “I am really excited about my selection.
“It is important that our county be seen as the trend-setter for other downstate county boards and administrators, and Marisol Hughes is a perfect addition.”
Hughes has worked as a self-employed certified public accountant and auditor in Ecuador. She has also worked as a bookkeeper and accountant in California and as Ecuador partnership manager for Partners Worldwide, a nonprofit organization focused on ending poverty.
Hughes, who said she has lived in Champaign County for about three years, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting, and has also been involved in the local community as a volunteer.
That includes serving as member of the board for Champaign-Urbana Friends and Allies of Immigrants and Refugees and as its assistant treasurer and liaison to Guatemalan families.
She’s also served as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Extension.
“I cannot imagine the issues that have caused a backlog of work to accumulate in the treasurer’s office, nor do I know what particular issues led Ms. Prussing to resign,” she said in her cover letter to Rosales. “I do know, however, that my administrative skills will serve me in identifying those issues and in leading a team to design and implement a resolution.”
Seven-month audition ‘to prove her ability’
Rosales said there remains a backlog of work to clear in the treasurer’s office, including unreconciled bank accounts.
”We cannot determine what the end balance of 2019 was,” he said.
Rosales said he’s confident Hughes has the knowledge, abilities and credentials to handle the job.
Also in Hughes’ favor is that she is bilingual in English and Spanish and available to begin work as treasurer as soon as she is sworn in, Rosales said.
“She will have these months from March through November to prove her ability in that office,” he said.