PLEASANT HILL -- City leaders seek an organized person with meticulous attention to detail -- and good note-taking skills -- to take over as city clerk.
Rather than call a special election, the City Council has decided to appoint someone to finish the remaining two years of the city clerk's term. The position has been vacant since May 19 when former City Clerk Kim Lehmkuhl resigned, following months of turmoil over her failure to produce council meeting minutes for an entire year.
The city staff is still developing the timeline and process for selecting a replacement, but applicants must be registered voters who live in Pleasant Hill. Interested parties should call the city at 925-671-5267 for more information.
Mayor Tim Flaherty and Councilman Ken Carlson will review the applications, interview the candidates and make a recommendation to the full council. The council must make the appointment by July 18 to comply with the 60-day window to act.
In a related move, the council also approved the ballot argument in support of a measure that would make the Pleasant Hill city clerk an appointed position. According to the League of California Cities, voters elect the city clerk in only 132 of the state's 482 cities.
City clerks perform such critical tasks as preparing meeting minutes, maintaining official records and administering elections. They also ensure that municipalities comply with federal, local and state laws, including California's open meeting and public records acts.
In March, the council agreed to place a measure on the November ballot asking whether the city clerk should be changed to an appointed position. If voters approve the measure, a staff member who answers to the city manager will assume the clerk's duties. Even so, the change won't take effect until 2016.
The election will cost Pleasant Hill about $19,000.
Although he favors giving voters the opportunity to decide, Councilman Jack Weir declined to sign the ballot argument because he prefers an independent elected clerk who is accountable to the public and doesn't owe his or her job to any council member.
"I think, to some extent, we're reacting to an admittedly bad experience," Weir said.
Councilman David Durant countered that, as they experienced with Lehmkuhl, an elected city clerk brings the potential for poor performance and a lack of accountability.
"There isn't really a good tool or mechanism for ensuring necessary public work gets done," he said.
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.