© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
The 88.5 FM KMST Rolla transmitter is operating at low power while awaiting a replacement part.

New Missouri Treasurer Vivek Malek will be first person of color to hold statewide office

Vivek Malek, incoming Missouri State Treasurer, stands at a podium. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson stands to the right of him.
Sarah Kellogg
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Vivek Malak, incoming Missouri state treasurer, will be the first person of color to serve in a statewide position. Malek is the fifth person Gov. Mike Parson has appointed to a statewide elected office since his tenure began in mid-2018.

Missouri’s next treasurer will be the first person of color to serve in a statewide office.

Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday that attorney Vivek Malek, who is originally from India, will become state treasurer in January. He will serve for two years before needing to run for the office in 2024 to keep it.

Malek, who is in private practice, has served on the Board of Governors for Southeast Missouri State University since 2020 but has never held elected office.

He said it’s been his dream to serve in a public office.

“As an individual, I can do only so much. But if you are in a structure where you can provide that help and offer those services to a larger population, I think that is through public service,” Malek, of Wildwood, said.

He will replace Scott Fitzpatrick, who is leaving the position after winning election in November to become state auditor.

Malek is the fifth person Parson has appointed to a statewide elected position in his tenure as governor. Since taking office in mid-2018, Parson has appointed a lieutenant governor, two treasurers and two attorneys general.

Two former attorneys general, Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt, won bids to become U.S. senators in that time.

Parson has said when looking for a new attorney general and treasurer this year, he wanted people who would stay in the position.

Anita Manion, assistant professor of political science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said it isn’t uncommon for statewide officials to use their positions as a stepping stone.

“Both of Missouri's U.S. senators have been attorneys general. Former Gov. Jay Nixon used the AG office as a springboard, so this isn't a new phenomenon,” Manion said.

Manion also said that makes these picks important in regard to future elections.

“It is sort of setting up your cadre of candidates for all these remaining positions, who's going to run for governor next, for example,” Manion said.

Both incoming Attorney General Andrew Bailey and Malek have said they intend to run for their appointed positions in 2024. And Parson has said he plans to lend his support during those elections.

“They might have not fared as well in a primary election or a general election, but now that they're going to be the incumbent officeholders, that will be a big benefit to them moving forward,” Manion said.

Sarah Kellogg is the Missouri Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.