Our sister station WLBK reports that the DeKalb City Council is moving towards making the city clerk an appointed position, instead of an elected office.
The council voted five to three Monday night to give first reading to the change. A final vote will come at their next meeting.
First Ward Alderwoman Carolyn Morris and Second Ward Alderman Bill Finucane voted no, saying the council shouldn’t go against two referendums where voters said the office should remain elected.
Fifth Ward Alderman Scott McAdams also voted no, saying that an appointed clerk will be accountable to the mayor, instead of the voters.
He also wants the position to become full-time, arguing the position isn’t working at part-time. He told why former clerk Susanna Herrmann may have resigned.
The proposal to make the office appointed comes after current City Clerk Lynn Fazekas refused to resign after being asked by Mayor Jerry Smith, in part, because she hasn’t allowed the deputy clerk to use the city seal.
City Manager Bill Nicklas says there have been 32 times where someone who came to city hall couldn't get business done because the seal wasn't available. Third Ward Alderman Tracy Smith believes city code allows any official to use the seal and says he’s done defending the city when business isn’t getting done.
Saying he’s an advocate for small government, Seventh Ward Alderman Tony Faivre says the answer to the clerk problem shouldn’t be creating a full-time position with more pay.
And Sixth Ward Alderman Mike Verbic says the office will still be accountable to the voters since the clerk will be appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council, who are elected.
If the position becomes appointed, Fazekas will still get to finish her term as clerk ending in 2021, and she says she plans on staying in office.
An attempt to waive second reading on the clerk change failed since the vote fell one shy of a supermajority. The final vote will come at the council’s Aug. 26 meeting.
The DeKalb City Council’s move towards an appointed city clerk goes against members of the public who gave their opinions Monday night.
Resident John Anderson spoke after the council voted five to three to take the first step towards moving away from letting voters fill the office.
Moving to a clerk appointed by the mayor was proposed by City Manager Bill Nicklas. Mark Scott accused Nicklas of a power grab.
Eight people spoke against changing to an appointed clerk and no one spoke in support. Former Mayor Bessie Chronopoulos urged the council to follow what the public wants.
Nicklas says his plan promotes accountability, saying when Fazekas took office, she signed and sealed a document saying she would allow the duties of the clerk to be done by the deputy clerks.
The council will take a final vote on making the clerk an appointed position at their Aug. 26 meeting.