City of Ferndale Appointment of City Clerk & Treasurer, Measure O (June 2014)
Administration of Government
|Not on ballot|
Measure O officially made the Ferndale City Clerk and City Treasurer appointed positions. Although, by statute, these positions should have been elected every four years, the city council and city manager had been appointing clerks and treasurers since 1972. This measure gave voter-affirmation of the city's practices and put them in compliance with the law.
- Election results from Humboldt County Elections Office
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
Shall the offices of City Clerk and City Treasurer continue to be appointed as they have since 1972? 
The following impartial analysis of Measure O was prepared by the office of the city attorney:
Ballot Measure “O” asks whether the City Clerk and City Treasurer positions should be appointed by the City Council/City Manager, rather than elected at a general municipal election.
State law requires a general law city, like Ferndale, to have a City Clerk and City Treasurer. Based on recently completed research for the City of Ferndale, it has been determined that the offices of City Clerk and City Treasurer have been appointed in Ferndale, rather than elected, since 1972.
By statute, the offices of City Clerk and City Treasurer are elected by the voters at a general municipal election, serve a four year term of office, and must be registered city voters. However, the offices of City Clerk and City Treasurer can become appointive, if a majority of the voters voting at a general or special election approve a City Council sponsored ballot measure to make the offices appointive. Despite the long history of appointment, there is no indication in the election records for the City of Ferndale that the voters have previously approved a ballot measure to render the positions appointive, rather than elective.
According to information published by the League of California Cities in 2010, approximately two-thirds of California’s 480 cities now have an appointed City Clerk and City Treasurer. The trend toward appointing the position of Clerk and Treasurer has increased as the duties of these offices have become more specialized and complex.
This ballot measure to make the City Clerk and the City Treasurer appointive has been placed on the ballot by the Ferndale City Council to seek voter approval of the appointive process. If the measure is approved by a majority of the voters, the offices of City Clerk and City Treasurer shall continue to be appointed by the City and vacancies will also be filled by appointment. An appointed City Clerk and City Treasurer need not reside in the City, which increases the likelihood of filling the position with someone possessing the technical skills required to perform the City Clerk and City Treasurer duties. Additionally, if appointed, no term of office is specified and an appointed City Clerk and City Treasurer can serve for longer durations at the pleasure of the City, providing the City the ability to develop experienced and knowledgeable officers.
If the ballot measure passes, the power to appoint the offices of City Clerk and City Treasurer shall be affirmed by the voters. 
—Russell S. Gans, Ferndale City Attorney
The following individuals signed the official arguments in favor of Measure O:
- Donald Anderson
- Jim Aste
- Donald Becker
- Don Hindley
- Richard “Dick” Hooley
Arguments in favor
The following official arguments were submitted in favor of Measure O:
Ferndale has appointed its City Clerk and City Treasurer since 1972, but an election was not held to ratify this choice as state law requires. Over the last 50 years, most California cities have moved from elected City Clerks and Treasurers to appointed staff. More than 65% of California cities have an appointed City Treasurer and more than 70% have an appointed City Clerk.
Municipal government and regulations have become more complex and the responsibilities of the City Clerk and Treasurer require increasing levels of training and experience. Today, City Clerk responsibilities require professional skills and expertise in Election and Fair Political Practices Law, the Brown Act, Records Retention Management, and contract practices.
The City Treasurer function requires professional skills and expertise in municipal fund accounting, government reporting requirements, investment regulations and debt management. Today, independent audits and internal accounting controls provide the necessary oversight and accountability for the City’s finances. Since Ferndale has a small staff, the Clerk and Treasurer’s responsibilities are intermeshed with other duties such as billing, payroll, budget preparation, business and dog licenses, public facilities rental, staffing city commissions and issuing building permits.
The appointed City Clerk and City Treasurer would continue to be selected based on education, experience, and professional abilities; and be subject to a competitive recruitment process, annual performance evaluations and disciplinary action. If the positions were elected, the only accountability is through a vote every four years or a recall.
The public expects and deserves that the duties of the City Clerk and City Treasurer will be performed with professionalism and efficiency. Continuing to select individuals based on technical skills, education and relevant experience as Ferndale has for 42 years will achieve this. A “YES” vote on Measure O will ensure that the City’s operations continue to run as efficiently as possible. 
—Donald Anderson, Jim Aste, Donald Becker, Don Hindley and Richard “Dick” Hooley
No official arguments were submitted in opposition to Measure O. If you have an argument that you would like to see posted here, please email the Local Ballot Measure Project staff writer.
- City governance on the ballot
- Humboldt County, California ballot measures
- June 3, 2014 ballot measures in California
- Humboldt County Elections office, Humboldt County, June 3, 2014 sample ballot information," accessed May 8, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
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