PLEASANT HILL -- City Clerk Kim Lehmkuhl, who didn't produce City Council meeting minutes for an entire year, may face a recall election in November.
Residents notified Lehmkuhl during Monday's council meeting that they plan to circulate a petition seeking her removal from office. Signed by 25 residents, the official notice alleges that Lehmkuhl "violated her oath of office, and she accepted public funds for services she did not provide. To restore public trust, Ms. Lehmkuhl must be removed from office."
Lehmkuhl has seven days to file an answer to the notice. Recall organizers have 120 days after their petition is certified to collect about 3,800 signatures to place the recall on the November ballot. There are 18,970 registered voters in Pleasant Hill, according to the Contra Costa Elections Division. This would be the first recall election in Pleasant Hill.
Alicia Minyen, one of the organizers of the recall effort, urged Lehmkuhl to resign and spare herself the "public humiliation" of being forced out of office.
"She has to go. This is beyond a distraction; she doesn't understand the importance of minutes and having a historical record of what goes on at the meetings," Minyen said.
Lehmkuhl has been under fire since January, when the delinquent minutes first came to light. She has been working her way through the backlog, and so far, the council has approved eight sets of formal minutes and two sets are pending. She has until March 31 to complete minutes for the remaining 15 meetings.
"I'm committed to this office, and I'm not going to step down because there have been some speed bumps that I know we can resolve," said Lehmkuhl, who earns $7,020 annually as the part-time city clerk.
She also has updated the past year's meeting agendas and those since January with the votes taken. These annotated agendas are posted on the city's website.
"The issue will be resolved. There will be a non-basis for a recall," Lehmkuhl said.
But recall proponents say the relevant issue is Lehmkuhl's performance during her first year in office, not whether she makes up the work.
"All I know is that she needs to leave. So she should either resign, or the people of Pleasant Hill will remove her from office," Minyen said. "There's the easy way, and then there's the hard way."
Mayor Tim Flaherty said talk of a recall is premature, and Lehmkuhl should be given the opportunity to meet the March 31 deadline.
"Yes, the function needs to get done, and if it doesn't get done, I think it does merit some serious further discussion," he said.
Earlier this month, the council agreed that the minutes should include several sentences summarizing the points speakers make during public comment. Lehmkuhl said Monday that she needs help with this aspect of the meetings.
City Manager June Catalano said the city will pay a professional minutes taker to handle public comment to ensure that the remaining minutes are submitted to the council for approval by the end of next month.
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.