PRINCETON — Bureau County voters have elected Joseph Birkey as their next county treasurer.
Birkey, a Princeton Republican, finished with 59.2 percent of the vote (7,949), compared to Democratic opponent Rick Wilkin's 40.8 percent (5,488) in Tuesday's race.
Birkey celebrated his win with friends, family and supporters Tuesday night at his accounting firm, Birkey & Noble, in Princeton.
He thanked Bureau County voters for the opportunity to serve as their treasurer.
"I would also like to thank my wife, my family and committee members who went above and beyond with their continued support and hours of dedication. We should all appreciate the freedom afforded to us as citizens in this great country to be informed and vote responsibly for a qualified candidate," he said. "I am humbled and honored to have been elected as your treasurer."
Birkey plans to make a "seamlessly smooth transition" into his new position. With 32 years' experience as a certified public accountant, Birkey said he believes it will be an achievable goal.
Birkey will also focus on stability of qualified employees and cross-training of the personnel to maximize efficiency.
Wilkin, of Ohio, Ill., spent Tuesday's evening with supporters at Valley Bar & Grill in Spring Valley, where he kept an eye on returns on the Bureau County clerk's website.
After the election, Wilkin thanked his supporters and all those who voted and supported him through the campaign.
"I'm grateful for the people of Bureau County who showed their trust by voting for me," he said.
Throughout his campaign, Wilkin pushed for transparency of the county's funds, electronic payment options, and accuracy of tax bills.
In 2014, Wilkin ran for county treasurer but was defeated by current Treasurer Courtney Yates-Mabry, who received 58.5 percent to Wilkin's 41.5 percent. On Wednesday when asked if he might run again, Wilkin commented, "Never say never."