Voters in San Gabriel of suburban Los Angeles last week rejected a measure that would have required city clerks and city treasurers be appointed, not elected.
Measure A, which would have given the city council authority to appoint the city clerk and the city treasurer, was narrowly defeated Tuesday, 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.
The proponent of the measure was the city. There was no organized opposition, nor were there any media campaigns for or against the measure, said San Gabriel City Manager P. Michael Paules.
Paules said the city council voted unanimously to place the measure on the ballot, with the consent of the current city clerk, Eleanor Andrews, and the current City Treasurer, John Janosik.
“The city clerk and city treasurer should be free of politics, and their selection should be based on their experience and qualifications to do the work for which they are responsible,” the City Council stated in its formal argument in favor of the measure.
“Demands on these positions in San Gabriel are much different today than many years ago. At that time, the work could be accomplished by part-time elected citizens. Since then, the needs of the community have grown, and the workload requires that these duties be assigned to qualified professionals with specific experience to fill these positions.”
The council noted that “the vast majority” of California cities appoint their clerks and treasurers, subject to the same hiring practices as other city employees.
“This proposal would bring our city into line with the modern practices of these other cities without increasing costs,” the council stated. “Our current city clerk and city treasurer both endorse this measure. We urge your support for ensuring that the public’s money and records are kept safe and secure. Experience, not politics, should be the means for accomplishing this.”
In his analysis of the measure, San Gabriel City Attorney Robert L. Kress noted that should the measure pass, “the successful candidates for the offices of city clerk and city treasurer will not begin new terms of office. Instead, the city council will make appointments to these offices.”
Andrews and Janosik were both re-elected Tuesday, and with the defeat of Measure A, began new four-year terms.
Paules suggested the measure was defeated in part because the city did not run a campaign in favor of it.
“There was no opposition, but by the same token, there was no campaign for the measure,” he said. “It was really just viewed as a good government kind of measure and the thinking was that the voters would make up their own minds. And they did. Maybe they didn’t have a good understanding of the issue or there was no campaign, but you know, it failed by a very small margin.”
Paules said similar measures have been placed on city ballots up and down the state and have passed.
“We’re probably one of the last cities to place this kind of measure on the ballot because most have converted over to appointive offices over the years,” he said.
Under California law, a city manager who wishes to change city clerk and city treasurer positions from elected to appointed must request that the city council approve placing on the ballot a Measure A-type initiative that would put the issue before voters.
Paules said there is an outside chance the measure may yet pass since there are a couple hundred provisional and absentee ballots that have yet to be counted. They are scheduled to be tallied by Thursday.
“The results are not final until after that,” he said. “But it’s unlikely” that those ballots will tip the final count in favor of the measure.
Is there any talk about resurrecting the measure and placing it on the next San Gabriel ballot?
“No,” he said. “There hasn’t been any discussion about that yet.”