Metro-East News

Washington Park mayor appoints his sister to replace him as clerk

Willie Ray, third from left, was appointed by her brother, Rickie Thomas, to fill his unexpired term as village clerk in Washington Park.
Willie Ray, third from left, was appointed by her brother, Rickie Thomas, to fill his unexpired term as village clerk in Washington Park. Staff

When Rickie Thomas was sworn in as mayor May 1, one of the first moves he made was to appoint his sister to his old job as village clerk.

Thomas, 49, appointed his sister, Willie Ray, 58, to fill out the remainder of his term. To keep the job, she would have to run for election in April 2019.

Thomas confirmed that Ray is his sister. Ray could not be reached for comment.

According to her resume, Ray has 10 years experience in the public and private sector in bill collections and contract negotiations in managed care and various health-care firms. She also has experience in auditing and ensuring regulatory compliance. She has leadership, business and revenue recycling experience with hospitals in Illinois and Missouri.

She has a bachelor’s degree in managed health care from Webster University, a master’s in business administration from Webster University and a dental assistant certification from Robert Morris College in Carthage. She also has taught as an adjunct at Sanford-Brown College.

While some are calling the appointment of his sister to his old job nepotism, Thomas said he consulted with the village attorney, Bob Sprague, before making his choice.

“I was told it is legal and within the law. She is very qualified. She has a master’s in business administration. She has over 15 years in revenue cycling, experience in boosting revenue and making sure all revenue is accounted for.”

Thomas had long complained prior to being elected mayor that he was not always allowed to do his job under the previous administration.

“(Ray) is putting measures in place to track all revenue. She is putting the proper things in place to prepare bills for citizens and seniors. We have a clerk who will be allowed to do her job,” Thomas said.

The appointment was approved unanimously by the village board. The trustees who supported the appointment were James Madkins, Clyde Jackson, Juliette Gosa, Deb Moore, Mary McKinney and Ferris Williams. All are political supporters of Thomas.

Moore said Ray’s appointment was like “a breath of fresh air.”

“We needed someone to assess where we are and what we need done. We have seen immediate change with the things she has already put in place. Now, I think things in Washington Park will only get better. It was a great choice,” Moore said.

Ray will be paid $975 a month. Thomas receives about $2100 a month, the same salary as the former mayor, Ann Rodgers. Trustees receive $500 a month.

Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503