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Smart Voter
San Diego County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Proposition M
City Clerk Appointment
City of La Mesa

Majority Approval Required

Pass: 6617 / 51.32% Yes votes ...... 6276 / 48.68% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Information shown below: Summary | Arguments |

Shall the office of city clerk be appointive?

Summary Prepared by City Attorney:
In 1912, upon the incorporation of the City of La Mesa (City), the position of city clerk was designated as an elected position selected by the voters with limited areas of responsibility. This measure, placed on the ballot by the City Council, would change the designation of city clerk from an elected position to an appointed position selected by the city manager.

To date, the position of city clerk in the City has remained an elected position. However, the position requires significantly increased areas of responsibility including, but not limited to, administering such laws as the Brown Act, Political Reform Act and Public Records Act. Presently, the elected city clerk's salary is determined and fixed by the City Council in the annual budget as established by City ordinance.

Pursuant to the California Elections Code (Elections Code), the only qualifications necessary to run for the office of city clerk are that the candidate must be: (1) at least 18 years age, (2) a United States citizen and (3) a registered voter in the City. There are no technical or professional qualifications required. As an elected position, in the event of poor performance, the city clerk may only be removed by a recall of the voters pursuant to the Elections Code. Additionally, as an elected position, Title 3 of the La Mesa Municipal Code (Municipal Code) entitled "Personnel," which includes regulations related to work performance review, work time, vacations and holidays, leave, dismissal, demotion and suspension, does not apply to the city clerk.

This measure, as a result of designating the office of city clerk as an appointed position, would require the city manager to assume the responsibility of selecting an individual to carry out the technical and professional skills necessary to administer the duties of that office. The city manager would also establish the salary for the appointed city clerk commensurate with the technical and professional skills required to satisfactorily perform the position. Additionally, Title 3 of the Municipal Code (as referenced above) would apply to the appointed position of city clerk thereby subjecting that position to all the rules, regulations, restrictions, rights and privileges, including the authority of the city manager to remove the appointed city clerk for poor performance.

Under this measure, an appointed city clerk, as a public official, would continue to be subject to the California Political Reform Act (conflict of interest regulations)

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Arguments For Proposition M Arguments Against Proposition M
The selection of the City Clerk should be based on qualifications and experience - not the result of a political campaign.

Demands on the City Clerk have evolved over the past few decades. The complexities of the position have increased and the technical skills and knowledge required are significant. The Clerk's responsibilities include, but are not limited to, administration of the City's records and electronic document management program, oversight of all municipal elections, compliance with conflict of interest and campaign disclosure regulations, following federal/state laws and recording decisions of the representative government.

Logic demands that the Clerk be selected based on an extensive screening designed to recruit and hire the person with the strongest technical, administrative and professional skills. Once hired by the City Manager, an appointed City Clerk can be held accountable to perform to the same standards established for City department heads and executive staff.

Under California law, the only qualifications to serve as an elected City Clerk are that the person be at least 18 years old and registered to vote in La Mesa. This potentially eliminates qualified candidates living nearby, but unable to live in La Mesa.

You expect the duties of this vital position will be performed by an experienced and skilled professional. This can best be accomplished by selecting a person to serve based on technical skill, education and relevant experience.

Statewide, the trend has moved towards appointed rather than elected City Clerks. 72% of California cities appoint their City Clerks. We join many groups and individuals in California committed to local government and encourage you to support this logical change.

Your yes vote on Measure M ensures the duties of the City Clerk are performed by a qualified professional selected on experience, education and training, not by popular vote.

Vice Mayor, City of La Mesa
La Mesa City Clerk
Former La Mesa City Clerk
La Mesa Resident
Member, La Mesa City Council

Rebuttal to Arguments For
It seems the goal of Ballot Measure M is to eliminate the impending risk of administrative chaos at city hall.

Proponents want you to think that the entire system might collapse if we do not take immediate action and appoint all future clerks.

Logic demands this be done, advocates claim. Yet, which skills, which education, and which relevant experience would be required of these professionals? These standards will be established later. First, though, the right to vote on this important office must be surrendered.

A newly-elected clerk would receive any training necessary to perform the ceremonial and administrative duties of the job, as is the case now. Staff who make up the Clerk's Division would continue to function as before. It would be business as usual.

The clerk's office for San Diego County is an elected one. Administrative work continues regardless of who holds the seat.

Will the sky fall if we continue to let the people choose our city clerk? It hasn't so far. Electing the city clerk has served us well since La Mesa's incorporation in 1912. We are satisfied with the job performance of our elected official and her team and are confident that her successor and the staff of the Clerk's Division will continue to serve the public well.

The system is not broken. There is nothing to fix.

Vote NO on Measure M.


The office of city clerk needs to remain an elected one.

There are no data supporting the view that an appointed city clerk results in better government.

An elected clerk is necessary to continue the system of checks and balances in city government. The clerk serves as the face of the city, resides within, knows the streets, hears the concerns, and is familiar with the issues voiced by the inhabitants. Appointing an individual who may live even outside the city does no service to this important office or to those whom it serves. An elected clerk is as vested in La Mesa as are members of the council.

The office of city clerk was designed to be independent of any influence from the city manager or city council. The clerk serves at the pleasure of the voters in La Mesa.

That the next elected clerk might be unable to perform the duties of the office, therefore requiring the costly hiring of a trained professional, is a flawed claim. La Mesa City Clerk Kennedy mentioned at a council meeting that after her election she continued her education/training to achieve professional certification. There is no reason to assume that her successor would do any differently.

This measure has no support from the public. If such support existed, there would have been a petition drive to put it on the ballot and residents would have addressed the city council accordingly. The measure is clearly a creation of others.

Measure M is likely to cost taxpayers $10,000. To drain our city's coffers based on the fear of what might happen in the future is misguided.

Trust the people. Let the electorate choose and evaluate the performance of the city clerk by casting a ballot November 4th.

Vote NO on Measure M.


Rebuttal to Arguments Against
The position of City Clerk, unlike that of a City Councilmember, is not a "political" one and has no policy making power, nor is the City Clerk a "watchdog" or part of the governmental 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 legislative administrator, elections official and records manager, while remaining apolitical and serving as an impartial public servant to all interests.

Compliance with the law and high ethical standards are guiding principles of any City Clerk. He/she should be held accountable for the performance of the duties of the position irrespective of political influences.

Although the current City Clerk obtained the necessary certification after years of experience, education and training, there are no requirements to ensure future elected Clerks will do the same, leaving the City vulnerable to noncompliance with state and federal mandates due to a potentially inexperienced elected official.

Cities with appointed Clerks have established professional standards and hiring based on qualifications such as level of experience, education, professional certification and training. These qualifications ensure accountability for performance. Does La Mesa deserve less?

Additionally, an appointed City Clerk would save the City approximately $10,000 every four years by not having the position of City Clerk on the ballot.

Your YES vote ensures the City's ability to appoint an experienced and professional City Clerk in the years to come at a cost savings.

Vote YES on Measure M.

Vice Mayor, City of La Mesa
Retired La Mesa City Clerk
La Mesa City Clerk
La Mesa Resident
Councilman, City of La Mesa

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