(The Center Square) – Republican Gov. Mike Parson appointed Vivek Malek to serve as treasurer, marking be the first person of color to hold statewide office in Missouri.
An attorney from the St. Louis suburb of Wildwood, Malek was chosen on Tuesday to replace Republican Scott Fitzpatrick, who won the election in November to become state auditor.
“I want to make sure every child in Missouri grows up with the same opportunities I have had here,” said Malek, who immigrated to America from India to attend Southeast Missouri State University as a graduate student. “I know that times have been tough lately. I believe that Missouri needs a steady conservative hand in the office of treasurer and I will work every day to make sure taxpayer money is invested wisely and in the most prudent way.”
Vivek is the fifth appointee made by Parson since he became governor after the resignation of Eric Greitens in June 2018. Parson said his office was thorough and deliberate in making the selection for treasurer.
“This has never been done before and may never be done again,” Parson said. “While appointing statewide office holders is a duty rarely required of governors, it is one our administration has been tasked with more than any other.”
Parson said several candidates were interviewed for the office. Like Parson’s selection of Republican Andrew Bailey for attorney general to replace Eric Schmitt, Malek said he intends to run for the position in 2024.
“We look for candidates that we can trust and are in it for the right reasons,” Parson said. “We look for someone who will answer to the people of Missouri first and that we can trust to make decisions based on what is right.”
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, issued a statement congratulating Malek and stating her party looks “forward to building a relationship with his office that best serves the needs of Missourians.
“It is disappointing, of course, that it took the governor five tries to look beyond the usual suspects before picking the first non-white Missourian to hold a top statewide executive branch office. Missouri is a diverse state with a diverse pool of qualified candidates who merited more consideration than the governor had shown with his previous statewide appointments.”
Parson appointed Malek to the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Governors in 2020. He will resign from the board prior to being sworn into public office.
Malek, 45, owns and operates his own law firm and has practiced law since 2000. A media release from Parson’s office stated he specializes in legal and social matters in many of Missouri’s diverse communities, including Bosnian, Hispanic, Asian and African Americans.
Malek earned a bachelor’s degree and law degree from Maharshi Dayanand University in India. After earning a master of business administration at Southeast Missouri State University, he earned a master of laws from the University of Illinois.