Missouri Treasurer Vivek Malek takes office

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican Treasurer Vivek Malek officially became Missouri’s first non-white state officeholder during a Tuesday ceremony.

The 45-year-old attorney from the St. Louis suburb of Wildwood took the oath of office surrounded by family and at least 200 supporters. He’s an immigrant from northern India.

Malek pledged to safeguard taxpayer dollars, promote Missouri’s state-run savings programs and “promote the promise of America” in his new role.

“As your state treasurer, I’ll stand up for Missourians to ensure you’re able to realize your God-given potential,” he said.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson appointed Malek to replace Scott Fitzpatrick, who was elected state auditor last year.

Parson said immigrants are expected to “work hard and prosper.”

“That’s exactly what Vivek done,” Parson told a crowd gathered in the state House chamber. “He gave a great example for everyone in this room today of what you can do and what this country gives you an opportunity to do.”

This is the fifth open statewide elected seat that Parson has filled with an appointment since he became governor in 2018. No other governor has filled more than three vacant statewide elected seats.

Malek on Tuesday told reporters that he left his law firm, which handles immigration cases, to work as treasurer.