Banning will let voters decide whether city clerk should be appointed or not
Banning is moving forward on a measure that will allow the city clerk’s elected position to become an appointed one.
The current City Clerk Marie Calderon requested that the city council consider it during their May 26 meeting.
The city also had discussed whether or not to let voters decide whether to make the city treasurer’s position an appointed one as well, but enough advocates erring on the side of independence and accountability were able to end those discussions.
The city treasurer’s position has been an elected one for the past 100 years, it was mentioned a couple of times during discussion.
“I’ve worked for the city for 30 years, and it’s been on the ballot twice” Calderon recounted.
Both times citizens shot it down, seeing it as one less means of having a say as to who is represented in their government.
Calderon said that she understood voters’ sentiments, and agreed that maybe this would not be a fiscally feasible time to consider adding it to a ballot at a cost to the city of $14,500 (had the city treasurer’s position also been added, that would have been a total of $29,000 the city would have spent on preparing ballot measures).
Calderon expressed appreciation to the city, saying “I’m still proud to be city clerk.”
The city clerk’s position as an appointed one, should it pass, would become effective at the end of Calderon’s existing term in November 2024.
Banning’s city council essentially has until July 14 — the last council meeting before a summer recess, and the final one where a decision can be made before the Aug. 7 municipal election deadline to get something on a ballot — to approve a measure.
Mayor Daniela Andrade explained that Calderon had on a few occasions mentioned to her that she believed that the city clerk’s position should be appointed.
According to the city manager’s report, 68 percent of cities appoint their clerks, whereas nationally 80 percent of city clerks are appointees.
According to the report, “The percentage of elected City Clerks in California has continued to decline. As the legal responsibilities and professional expertise required to fulfill the duties of the position have increased, elected City Clerks have been replaced by appointed professional staff with appropriate training and experience who typically perform both City Clerk and City staff duties.”
In Banning some of those obligations of the city clerk’s position have been relegated to others: the city attorney ensures Brown Act compliance and responds to Public Records Act requests; the city manager is responsible for elections and campaign finance law compliance; day-to-day duties are carried out by the deputy city clerk, which is an employee position.
Calderon has been responsible for swearing in new officials, and her name is the authorized signature on official documents.
A few attendees from the public voiced concerns that allowing the city to appoint a city clerk could grant too much power to either the city manager or the council; the measure narrowly passed 3-2 to have staff bring forward a resolution to place on the ballot to give voters the final say as to whether that position should be an appointed one.
Separately the city council voted unanimously to keep the city treasurer’s position an elected one.
Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.