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November 8, 2016 — California General Election

City of Atascadero
Measure F-16 Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


6,597 votes yes (50.43%)

6,484 votes no (49.57%)

100% of precincts reporting (16/16).

15,139 ballots counted.

Shall the office of City Clerk be appointive?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

A simple majority of YES votes would approve the measure, making the City Clerk an appointive office.

NO vote means

A majority of NO votes would reject the measure, in which case the City Clerk will continue to be an elective office.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

BRIAN A. PIERIK City Attorney, City of Atascadero

State law requires each California city to have a City Clerk.  City Clerks may be either elected or appointed.  This measure places before the voters the question whether the City Clerk should be an appointed rather than an elected position.

In Atascadero, the City Clerk is currently elected and serves a four-year term.  State law also establishes the qualifications for a City Clerk, requiring that the person elected to this position must be a registered voter and resident of the City.  There are no requirements that candidates for City Clerk have any specific education, certification, or experience.

City Clerks perform limited duties as specified by state law, but are often called on to perform numerous related administrative duties.  Some, but not all, of the City Clerk's duties include preparing, indexing, and maintaining accurate minutes of City Council meetings and all City documents and records; printing, assembling, and distributing Council agenda materials; administering municipal elections; receiving and maintaining candidate campaign forms and City officials' statements of economic interest; revising the City's conflict of interest code; preparing, mailing, and publishing all official City notices in a timely manner; and maintaining the Municipal Code.

State law authorizes the City Council to place on the ballot the question whether the City Clerk should be made appointive.  If a majority of the voters approve making the position of City Clerk appointive, the City Council will have the authority to appoint a person to be City Clerk upon the expiration of the current term of office, or earlier if there is a vacancy.  The City Council could establish qualifications such as education, certification and experience, and could appoint the person determined to be best qualified, regardless of that person's place of voter registration or residence.  This measure would not change the duties of the City Clerk as established pursuant to state law.

A simple majority of YES votes would approve the measure, making the City Clerk an appointive office.

A majority of NO votes would reject the measure, in which case the City Clerk will continue to be an elective office. 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

The only qualification to serve as elected City Clerk is to be a registered City voter.  The selection of the Atascadero City Clerk should be based on qualifications and experience, not on the results of a political campaign.  There is no guarantee that an elected City Clerk will possess the necessary skills and expertise.  Your “YES” vote on Measure F-16 will convert the Atascadero City Clerk position from elected to appointed (hired) and is placed before the voters to ensure the City’s operations continue into the future to be run efficiently by qualified individuals.

Historically, cities elected the city clerk to perform narrow statutory duties.  However, as cities have grown and become more complex, the duties of the city clerk have significantly expanded and become more technical.  City clerks now require a high level of expertise and training with knowledge of local and state laws relating to the Public Records Act, Brown Act, Political Reform Act, Municipal Elections, and the Municipal Code.  As a result, 73% of cities in California now appoint their city clerks.

The San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury released a report in 2010 addressing the question if City Clerks and Treasurers should be elected or appointed.  Their report stated that “Health benefits alone may be sufficient to attract unqualified persons to run for city clerk, leaving the work to city staff and costing the cities health benefits for persons performing no useful function.” 

The public deserves the duties of the City Clerk to be performed professionally and efficiently. 

The Atascadero City Clerk and City Treasurer urge you to vote “YES” on Measure F-16.

s/ Marcia McClure Torgerson
City Clerk

s/ Gere Sibbach
City Treasurer



Arguments AGAINST


Read the proposed legislation

Proposed legislation

Shall the office of City Clerk be appointive?

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