LWV League of Women Voters of California
Smart Voter
Orange County, CA November 5, 2002 Election
Measure M
City Clerk Appointive Office
City of Fullerton

12,036 / 52.1% Yes votes ...... 11,081 / 47.9% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Nov 12 4:00pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (98/98)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the Office of City Clerk be appointive?

Impartial Analysis from City attorney
The California Government Code requires each city to have a City Clerk, who is to be either elected or appointed. The City Clerk's office is the records center for official actions of the City Council and is responsible for related agendas, minutes and public hearing notices, as well as ordinances and resolutions. The City Clerk serves in an administrative capacity as Clerk of the Council, directs municipal elections, is the filing officer for campaign and economic interest statements required by the Political Reform Act, and is custodian of the City seal. The City Clerk manages the City's Records Management Program, maintains the Municipal Code, administers the department's imaging system; maintains custody and preservation of City records.

This measure would change the manner in which the City Clerk of the City of Fullerton is selected. Currently, the City Clerk is elected directly by the people and must reside in and be a registered voter of the City. There is, however, no current requirement that the City Clerk have any specific education, certification or training. The City Clerk serves an elective term of four years and must stand for re-election to continue as City Clerk. Any vacancy in the position must be filled by appointment for the duration of the elective term or by special election.

This measure would make the City Clerk's office an appointive rather than elective office. If this measure passes, any person serving as the City Clerk would continue to serve the current elective term until its expiration on December 7, 2004, or until there is a vacancy in the position, whichever occurs first. Thereafter, the City Clerk would be appointed by the City Council, which could adopt minimum qualifications for training, education, experience or certification for the City Clerk position. The City Council could recruit and interview for the position of City Clerk from among all qualified candidates, regardless of where they reside or are registered to vote. An appointed City Clerk would serve at the pleasure of the City Council, and as a department head of the City Clerk's department, under the supervision of the City Manager who is also appointed by the City Council. Thus, an appointed City Clerk could be replaced due to unsatisfactory performance or if he or she became unable or unwilling to perform the job duties. Temporary appointments could be made to the position during any search for and interview of qualified applicants, and no appointment within thirty days or special election would have to be held. The City Council would have the right to adopt an ordinance to delegate appointment authority for the City Clerk's position to the City Manager. If the measure does not pass, the City Clerk will continue to be an elective office.

Suggest a link related to Measure M
Links to sources outside of Smart Voter are provided for information only and do not imply endorsement.

Arguments For Measure M Arguments Against Measure M
Historically, cities have had an elected City Clerk who performed a variety of duties. However, as cities have grown and government has become more complex, the duties of the City Clerk have become more numerous and technical in nature and now require professional skills and expertise in areas such as election law, federal and state law, records management, and conflict of interest regulations. There is no guarantee that an elected City Clerk will possess such skills and expertise. An appointed City Clerk, however, would be selected based on education, management experience, licenses and continuing professional education. The appointed City Clerk would be subject to normal personnel procedures, including annual performance evaluations and possible termination for unsatisfactory performance.

The position of the City Clerk, unlike that of a City Councilmember, is not a "political" one and has no policy making authority, nor is the City Clerk a part of the government system of checks and balances. Rather, the role of the City Clerk is to use modern management practices to administer the legislative process as the City's election official, legislative administrator and records manager, while remaining impartial and neutral. This change from elected City Clerk to appointed City Clerk is also supported by both of the City's prior elected City Clerks, Anne York and Audrey Culver.

We, the undersigned City Councilmembers, feel this change is in the best interest of the citizens, therefore endorse the appointment of a City Clerk and encourage your affirmative vote on this measure to ensure that the duties of the City Clerk are performed by a legislative and administrative professional selected on knowledge, education, training and qualifications.

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The proponents of this measure are a majority of Fullerton's elected City Council members. They claim that allowing them to choose the City Clerk is in your ("the citizens") best interest. Wrong! It only gives them more power over the process. Too much power.

The Council members argue that there is "no guarantee" that an elected City Clerk will possess "skills and expertise."

FACT: They have always praised and expressed confidence in recent elected City Clerks.

The Council members argue that a City Clerk's duties have become more numerous and technical in nature.

FACT: They fail to point out that modern technology has eased and simplified those duties.

The Council members say that the City Clerk position is not a "political" one.

FACT: How odd! A directly elected elections official who has oversight of candidates and filings of elected council members, and they claim it's not a political post.

If an appointed City Clerk fails to perform his/her responsibilities to the voters, or fails to judiciously follow elections laws, the voters have no recourse. FOR THIS REASON ALONE, THE PROPOSAL TO CHANGE THE SELECTION OF THE CITY CLERK FROM THE VOTERS TO THE BUREAUCRATS IS A DANGEROUS AND CARELESS ACTION.

FACT: This measure is about usurping your right to choose an independent City Clerk.


Vote NO.

The City Clerk of Fullerton should not be appointive. Vote NO to preserve your right to vote for this important position in future elections.

The City Clerk is THE elections official for our city. The Clerk position is and has for a very long time been elected by you; the voters of Fullerton. This helps to allow for independent decisions and insures accountability.

Among his/her responsibilities, the City Clerk's Office is the records center for the official actions of the City Council, which incidentally is elected. The Clerk serves as Clerk of the Council, administers municipal elections, and is the filing officer for campaign and economic interest statements required by the Political Reform Act.

Whether it be receiving claims and legal actions against the city, overseeing records, notarizing documents, interacting with City Council, city staff or the general public, the Clerk must be accessible and accountable to the public whom he/she serves and not to the bureaucrats and politicians.

In 1994, the City Council placed on the ballot the following: "If the recall [of the City Clerk] prevails, shall the City Council fill the vacancy by appointment or call a special election for that purpose?" The voters by 72% to 28% resoundingly voted to elect.

Now, the Councilmembers are trying to make the City Clerk their permanent employee. Can the City Council oversee elections in an objective way? Apparently not. Should elected politicians control the elections official as their employee? The answer is self-evident.

Vote NO.

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
The Fullerton Chamber of Commerce and the Fullerton Business Council support the measure to change the Office of City Clerk from an elected position to an appointed position by the City Council.

This is the first time the Fullerton City Council has placed this issue before us as voters and we defend the City Council and the reasons for which they have made this decision. Several cities in Orange County have already made this important and responsible change; of Orange County's 34 cities, 25 have an appointed City Clerk. As our city has grown to more than 125,000 residents with a budget exceeding $150 million, the job of city clerk has become more complex. This complexity requires that the City Council have the freedom to hire an employee with the education, professional skill and expertise to perform the job to the level needed. Currently, the elected City Clerk position does not have any requirements for education, certification or training.

As the position of the City Clerk has no policy-making authority, it is unnecessary for the position to be one that is politically elected. An appointed clerk would not only be accountable to the public, but also to the City Council. Like all other city staff, the clerk would be subject to performance evaluations and possible termination for unsatisfactory performance. This ensures that the public has the most qualified person managing their public affairs.

The undersigned proponents of the primary argument in favor of ballot measure to change the City of Fullerton City Clerk's position from elected to appointed at the general election for the County of Orange to be held on November 5, 2002 hereby state that the argument is true and correct to the best of their knowledge and belief.

Orange Home Page || Statewide Links || About Smart Voter || Feedback
Created: December 6, 2002 03:14 PST
Smart Voter <http://www.smartvoter.org/>
Copyright © League of Women Voters of California Education Fund   http://ca.lwv.org
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.