Kahalah Dixon believes her legal experience and people skills will serve her well in a new role as St. Clair County Circuit Clerk.
Dixon, 33, previously worked in the State's Attorney's office. She succeeded former clerk Brendan Kelly on Feb. 3.
In December, Kelly was named State's Attorney following Robert Haida's election as circuit judge.
"I think my life circumstances certainly put me in a position to be a compassionate and understanding person," Dixon said in an interview the Madison County Record Thursday.
Those qualities, she said, will help her work with her new staff of more than 70 in the clerk's office as well as the county's residents.
Dixon's first weeks have been filled with staff meetings and becoming familiar with the daily workings of her new office.
She plans to work with community leaders and staff to institute new programs in the future.
Two existing issues that are high on her priority list: the growing St. Clair County asbestos docket and instituting e-filing in St. Clair County.
St. Clair County's asbestos docket had been largely un-used until it saw a jump in filings last year.
That rise has continued.
A large asbestos docket, such as the one found in neighboring Madison County, poses logistical and other problems for a clerk's office.
Dixon said she hoped to work the Madison County Circuit Clerk's Office on ways to keep the asbestos files under control.
"It's definitely something we're going to handle quickly so it doesn't get out of hand," Dixon said.
E-filing, a program instituted under Kelly, will also continue to expand.
Dixon said her goal is to expand the program into a number of other areas of the clerk's office.
Currently, only chancery cases can be e-filed.
Dixon is an East St. Louis native who now lives in Fairview Heights.
Her father was East St. Louis' fire chief and her mother worked for what is now Macy's for 41 years.
Dixon is the first person in her family to hold elected office.
She has degrees from the University of Illinois and the Indiana University School of Law.
She previously worked in private practice and as a public defender in Indiana.
Dixon's "life circumstances" took a turn for the tragic two years ago.
Her husband died after brain surgery.
Her son, now two years old, was eight months-old at the time.
"I'm a firm believer in 'life happens,'" Dixon said. "You have to be able to deal with it."
That mindset, she said, makes her aware of the needs of those working for her and also those that the office serves.
She said she is still getting used to her new role.
"This is a tremendous honor," Dixon said. "At times I'm still speechless. I just look forward to a tremendous, tremendous time as circuit clerk of St. Clair County."