To the Editor:
The residents of DeKalb want an elected city clerk. They’ve said so twice over the past decade. In a 2006 referendum, 62% of DeKalb voters chose to retain an elected clerk rather than switch to an appointed clerk, and in 2012, they voted again to retain the elected clerk with more than 70% of the vote.
The 70% translates to more than 9,000 votes. It’s a clear mandate. No elected official in DeKalb gets anywhere near this many votes.
However, if you look at what’s happened since 2012, you’ll see we’ve not had a single clerk candidate on the ballot in two elections, and have been served by an elected city clerk only 16 months out of the last 4-1/2 years. That’s because, following that 2012 referendum, the DeKalb city council took away duties, powers, and almost all of the compensation from the office.
It was a big mistake, an ill-advised case of overkill. Instead of providing the resources required to support it properly, the city gutted the office of the clerk and gave over what remained to the tender mercies of the city manager. But it’s nothing that can’t be fixed, and the time to fix is now so voters can see good choices on the ballot for this important, at-large office in the spring.
Our group has begun a petition drive as a general call for action and to build awareness of what has happened. We’ve also developed a specific proposal that will not only make the clerk’s office more attractive to potential candidates, but will also restore its independence as a check on the excesses of other departments, and save some money in the next annual budget over the way things are done now.
If you are one of the 9,000 DeKalb voters who insisted the DeKalb city clerk remain an elected office – or simply a citizen who believes that referendum results should be honored – please visit us at the Facebook group Restore the Elected Clerk in DeKalb to peruse the proposal and find out how you can help.
Citizens to Restore the DeKalb City Clerk