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updated: 11/24/2015 4:59 PM

Should Mundelein's village clerk be appointed or elected? Voters will decide

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  • Mundelein officials will ask voters in March to decide whether the village clerk should be an elected or appointed job. Voters decided to keep it an elected position in a 2013 referendum.

      Mundelein officials will ask voters in March to decide whether the village clerk should be an elected or appointed job. Voters decided to keep it an elected position in a 2013 referendum.
    Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer, 2014

 
 

For the second time in two years, Mundelein voters in March will decide if the village clerk should be an elected or appointed post.

Trustees on Monday unanimously agreed to put a referendum on the March 15 ballot that puts the fate of the clerk's post in the public's hands.

Voters rejected an identical proposal in April 2013. But Trustee Ray Semple thinks the time is right to ask again.

"We are going to give it another shot," Semple told the Daily Herald after Monday's vote.

Historically, Mundelein's clerk has been an elected job, with candidates running every four years for job duties that include taking notes at village board meetings and handling various paperwork-related tasks at village hall. Katy Timmerman has held the job since 2013.

But as an independently elected public official, the clerk is answerable to no one on a day-to-day basis. If a clerk fails to come to work or handles the job poorly, no one can do anything about it except the voters when the job is up for election.

"The clerk doesn't work for the mayor," Semple said. "The clerk doesn't work for the administrator."

Additionally, there also are no professional qualifications for the post. As with any local elected official, the clerk simply must be an American citizen, a resident of Mundelein and a registered voter.

That's a concern for Village Administrator John Lobaito.

"The job is too important to chance that a candidate with the right organizational skills for the job would be elected," Lobaito wrote in a memo to the village board.

Electing a clerk who doesn't have the right skills could result in mismanagement of public records or organizational discord, Lobaito wrote.

"At worse, mismanagement can lead to violations of the law," he wrote.

Officials insisted the referendum doesn't reflect on Timmerman's abilities.

Timmerman supports the change.

"I have found the position to be primarily administrative rather than one that necessitates going through the election process," she said. "Village staff has worked closely with the clerk's office for many years and they are capable of handling the responsibilities."

Mundelein's clerk used to be a full-time job, but it's been part time since 2005. As part of that move, the clerk's annual salary was cut from $43,000 to $6,905. The clerk's pay has increased since then, to $9,012 a year, the same amount trustees earn annually.

Semple suspects the 2013 proposal failed because of bad timing. The clerk's post was on the ballot that same election, and it may have confused people, he said.

"Not only were we asking to eliminate the clerk's position, but we were voting for a clerk at the same time," Semple said. "It was awkward."

If voters approve the change this time, the clerk would become an appointed position in May 2017, after Timmerman's term ends.

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