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Voters to choose city clerk in April

Published: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 8:04 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – Residents interested in running for DeKalb City Clerk will need to collect at least 239 signatures to get on the April ballot.

DeKalb voters overwhelmingly defeated the measure to make the position an appointed one, with 9,020 saying “No” and 3,778 saying “Yes.”

The City Council put the question on the November ballot after former City Clerk Steve Kapitan resigned in February for failing to comply with the state’s Open Meetings Act.

Since his resignation, Diane Wright has been filling the post. Wright said she will not run for re-election after finishing Kapitan’s term.

“I never wanted to be here full time,” Wright said. “When Steve resigned, I was asked to step up. I knew it was temporary and I could do it for 14 months, and they have always known that I eventually wanted to go back to part time. “

But even with the referendum’s failure, the city clerk will become a figurehead. Earlier this year, the City Council voted to reduce the position’s pay to only $5,000 a year if it remained on the ballot.

Meanwhile, one of the deputy clerks will become a full-time position with benefits and will be assigned to handle much of the clerk’s duties. City Manager Mark Biernacki previously said the elected, part-time clerk will handle only duties designated to the position by law.

The law requires the clerk to maintain city records, such as the municipal code and City Council minutes, and serve as the city’s Freedom of Information Act officer. Wright said those duties can be handled by a deputy clerk with the oversight of the city clerk.

Wright added the office also handles other duties “by tradition,” including updating the municipal code and issuing a variety of licenses.

Regardless of the election’s outcome, Wright said she hoped to go back to being a part-time deputy clerk because she enjoys working for the city.

“I would like to just go back to the part-time,” Wright said. “There’s a lot of responsibility with the city clerk, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve accomplished a lot here. I’m happy with the way the office is running.”

Wright said she was not surprised by the referendum’s failure because a similar referendum failed in 2006. Because DeKalb is a home-rule community, it can change an elected position like the city clerk to an appointed position through a referendum.

Along with the clerk position, DeKalb residents will elect a new mayor and some aldermen in the April election. The filing period for candidate petitions for local offices is Dec. 17 to 24.

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