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Council Supports Change To Clerk Job
LA MESA -- The La Mesa City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to continue pursuing an effort to convert the City Clerk's position from an elected post to an appointed job.
City Councilman Ernie Ewin said the City Attorney would bring formal language to the next council meeting for a final vote that could add the proposal to November's election ballot. City voters would have to agree to the change.
Mayor Art Madrid was the only no vote on the proposal. Madrid said he felt the proposal took one more piece of control of city government away from the voters.
The shift would also allow a clerk appointed, like the police chief, by the City Manager, to live outside the city. Currently, in order to run for elected office in La Mesa, candidates must live within the city. A number of appointed city employees don't live in the city.
Proponents of the change, including Ewin, see the shift as modernizing the post, which has become far more technically demanding than in the earlier days of municipal operations.
Ewin said the current City Clerk, Mary Kennedy, spoke in favor of the change. La Mesa is just one of a few cities in the county that still clings to the directly elected clerk. Nearly 80 percent of California municipalities now appoint the City Clerk. In San Diego 78 percent of the clerk's are appointed. Only Carlsbad, National City and Oceanside have kept the traditional elected posts.
"It is not that the City Council will appoint the clerk,'' Ewin said. "It would be just like the police chief. The City Manager would make the choice based on professional credentials and experience.''
With likely approval of the referendum, this will add another issue that will be filling an increasingly crowded November ballot. Proposals on marijuana and, most likely, term limits would join this clerk question along with a number of state-wide proposals making their way to voters for this mid-term election.
Coupled with what is expected to be an aggressively contested mayoral race and two open City Council seats, La Mesa voters may need to put a little extra time aside for voting this year.
So far the election season has not really shifted into high gear. Madrid is still facing opposition on all fronts from his fellow council members and is making it clear he is not going to go easy on his opponent, Council member Mark Arapostathis.
Madrid and Arapostathis both appeared together Saturday at a dedication of the La Mesa Public Library improvements, but the mayor wasn't in the mood for even exchanging niceties with Arapostathis. Standing within a few feet of Arapostathis, Madrid was asked if this was the two candidates' first joint appearance.
"Is he here?'' Madrid asked.
A cool start to a hot race.
Arapostathis and Madrid shared Saturday's La Mesa Public Library event.