City of Burlingame Appointed City Clerk, Measure I (November 2009)

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A Burlingame Appointed City Clerk, Measure I ballot question was on the November 3, 2009 ballot for voters in the City of Burlingame in San Mateo County, where it was approved.

Measure I changed the way that Burlingame's city clerk is chosen. Leading into the vote for Measure I, the arrangement was that the clerk was elected every four years. With the approval of Measure I, the city clerk is instead appointed by the city council.

Those in favor of Measure I believed it would allow the city to use the job application process to find a candidate who has the technical qualifications needed to do the job. Those opposed to Measure I believed that the city's voters could be trusted to chose a candidate who can handle the job's responsibilities.

Burlingame voters rejected a similar proposal in 1999. In 1999, 47.6% voted in favor of the proposal.[1]

Election results

Measure I
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 2,570 53.7%
No2,21446.3%
These final, certified, results are from the San Mateo County elections office.

Supporters

The official ballot argument in favor of Measure I was signed by:

  • Ann Keighran, Mayor. Keighran said, "The position has evolved over the years. It’s much more technically challenging."[1]
  • Terry Nagel, Council Member, Former Mayor
  • Rosalie O’Mahony, Council Member, Former Mayor

They said, "More than two-thirds of California cities and 13 of the 20 cities in San Mateo County have switched from the outdated model of an elected city clerk to an appointed city clerk, which allows cities to make appointments using the same thorough process they use to select department heads, including police and fire chiefs. In 1991 Burlingame voters approved making the city treasurer an appointed position."

Opponents

The official ballot argument opposing Measure I was signed by:

  • Cathy Baylock, Burlingame Vice Mayor, Former Mayor
  • Joe Galligan, Former Burlingame Mayor

They said:

  • "Elective representation is at the very core of American Democracy."
  • "The Burlingame City Clerk should be elected by the citizens s/he must serve."
  • "An elected City Clerk at Burlingame’s City Hall can assure citizens that all records, where possible, are open to public inspection, and will be both impartial and independent of both City Administrators and individual City Councilmembers."
  • "This past spring, the City Council placed a storm drain measure on the ballot asking property owners to approve $38 million in infrastructure improvements. The balloting and vote counting process was overseen by the city’s elected City Clerk assuring legitimacy and transparency at all phases of the measure."
  • Making this position appointive would lessen the checks and balances necessary to assure good, honest government."
  • "Citizens are certainly as capable of selecting this office as they are in choosing members of the City Council, the San Mateo County Tax Collector or Governor of California."
  • "Most important of all, appointees must answer to the person or persons who appoint them. However, an elected City Clerk will have to answer directly to you, the people."
  • "Appointees cannot be recalled and they need not be residents of the City. On the other hand, an elected City Clerk can be recalled and must be a resident of Burlingame."

California city clerks

The California Government Code requires each city to have a City Clerk. The code allows clerks to be elected or appointed. The clerk's office is responsible for

  • Preserving official records of the City including agendas, minutes and public hearing notices, contracts, as well as actions of the City Council such as ordinances, resolutions and contracts.
  • The City Clerk serves in an administrative capacity as Clerk of the Council.
  • The clerk directs municipal elections.
  • The clerk is the filing officer for campaign and economic interest statements required by the Political Reform Act
  • The clerk is the custodian of the City seal.

According to the League of California Cities, 146 out of 478 California cities have an elected clerk.[2]

Controversy over campaign funds

Donations given earlier in 2009 to "Protect Burlingame," a group set up to advocate for a storm drain fee measure, are being used to advocate for a "yes" vote on Measure I. Some donors who gave money to Protect Burlingame earlier in the year are upset, since they oppose Measure I and were not aware when they contributed money to the committee that the group intended to advocate for or against additional ballot measures.[3]

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

Measure I: "Shall the Office of the City Clerk of the City of Burlingame be appointive?"[4]

External links

References