Should Des Plaines city clerk remain an elected office? Voters will decide

Des Plaines will ask voters this spring whether the city clerk's job should be an appointed post instead of an elected office.

The city council voted unanimously Monday to place the binding measure on the March 17 primary ballot.

The clerk serves a 4-year term in a part-time capacity, earning an annual salary of $6,000 along with health benefits, according to city documents. Under the proposed change, the city manager would appoint a clerk to work full-time.

The clerk's responsibilities include helping oversee local elections, processing Freedom of Information Act requests and preparing minutes of city meetings, among other administrative duties.

City Clerk Jennifer Tsalapatanis supports the change, which would go into effect when her term expires in April 2021.

"Many other suburban towns have appointed, rather than elected, city clerks," she said, adding that she has no plans to apply for the position once her term is up.

Aldermen had some initial doubts, however. Alderman Don Smith of the 7th Ward questioned where the push for the referendum originated.

"This is not something we have to do," he said. "This is a pretty big issue, and I don't see the outcry from the public."

Mayor Matthew Bogusz said that because the issue involves a change in city government, it's ultimately for the voters to decide.

"Over the last couple of months, this is a discussion that the clerk and I have been having," he said.

City Manager Michael Bartholomew, who is appointed by the city council, said he favors the change. He said he's worked well with Tsalapatanis, but the office of the city clerk needs to have someone running it full-time.

"From a manager's perspective, both models can work," he said. "It is a highly administrative position. The city clerk's office is pretty busy, and they keep getting busier."

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.