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updated: 6/27/2012 3:40 PM

Island Lake board may use referendum to decide village clerk question

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  • Island Lake Trustee Shannon Fox

      Island Lake Trustee Shannon Fox

 
 

Island Lake trustees will decide Thursday whether to ask voters in November if the village clerk should no longer be an elected position.

If the proposed measure passes on Election Day, the clerk would become a village employee who's appointed by the mayor with approval from trustees -- just like a police chief or other top administrators.

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A referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot would coincide with the presidential election -- an event that typically results in higher-than-usual voter turnout.

"That was considered," said Trustee Shannon Fox, who proposed the change at a board meeting earlier this month. "I think it will bode well for the referendum, because we'll have more voters out there who are interested in doing what's best for the village."

During the board's June 14 meeting, Fox said it makes more sense for the mayor and trustees to interview and hire a clerk rather than having a clerk chosen by "the political whims" of voters.

Having a clerk who is a village employee and not a politician also encourages qualified applicants who otherwise might not go after the job because they don't want to campaign, Fox said.

An appointed clerk doesn't have to live in the village. An elected clerk does, just like a mayor or trustees.

The village doesn't have a clerk right now. Jen Gomez, who had been clerk for about a year, resigned this month.

Gomez's departure was not related to Fox's proposal.

Gomez had been appointed to the job after the previously elected clerk, Pam Miller, resigned midway through her term. Miller had been elected in 2009.

The clerk's post is up for election in spring 2013, along with the mayor and some trustee seats. If voters approve making the clerk an appointed job, it would not appear on the 2013 ballot.

State law allows villages with fewer than 5,000 residents to change the position from elected to appointed with a board vote. Support from at least two-thirds of the trustees is needed for approval, according to the statute.

Island Lake has more than 8,000 residents, however, so the board cannot make the decision. Instead, the issue must be put to voters.

All the trustees at the June 14 meeting supported the concept. Mayor Debbie Herrmann was silent on the subject that night, but on Wednesday she said she'd be fine with an appointed or elected clerk.

"It could be beneficial," Herrmann said. "There are pros and cons either way."

Already planning to run for re-election in 2013, Herrmann said she'd look to run with a clerk candidate who had computer skills and office experience if the position remains elected.

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