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DeKalb to appoint new city clerk Monday

Two others have backed away from the position this year

Jennifer Jeep Johnson will be appointed DeKalb city clerk Monday
Jennifer Jeep Johnson will be appointed DeKalb city clerk Monday

DeKALB – The City Council will consider Mayor John Rey’s proposed appointment of Jennifer Jeep Johnson to the position of city clerk Monday.

Johnson, a Northern Illinois University law school graduate, has lived in DeKalb since 2009, when she began law school after completing her bachelor’s at Marquette University in Milwaukee. She lives with her husband and two young children. 

“I’ve been staying at home with my kids since [their] infancy,” she said. “Now that my daughter is 20 months old, I’m starting to get back into working life and I felt the call to serve my community.”

Johnson said she contacted the mayor after reading what a hard time the city was having retaining someone in the role. 

“I felt like someone needed to step up, and decided it would be me,” she said. 

The position has been vacant since May, when Suzanne Pupino resigned shortly after being sworn in. Former clerk Liz Peerboom’s resignation in September 2014 left the position vacant until January, when Marcia Sweigert was appointed interim clerk.

The city clerk’s job is an elected position, but officials have struggled to find anyone to serve in the role since its responsibilities and pay were dramatically reduced.

In 2012, after a failed referendum to make the clerk an appointed position rather than an elected one, the City Council reduced pay for the position to $5,000 a year. Council members also limited the clerk’s duties to maintaining the city seal, overseeing minutes during City Council meetings, recording minutes of closed council meetings and signing documents recording the actions of the City Council. 

Stephanie Simons filed to run as a write-in candidate for the position, but she bowed out before the April 7 election. 

City Manager Anne Marie Gaura previously cited the lack of a city clerk when questioned by the public about meeting minutes availability during the budget process. 

The city was in the process of addressing unposted meeting minutes Friday, Gaura said. 

“Those minutes had been previously approved on agendas,” she said. “So they are technically up on the website under those agendas, just not in an easy-to-access format.” 

Under the Illinois Open Meetings Act, public bodies must make minutes available for public inspection and post them to the government’s website within 10 days after being approved.

Gaura said she didn’t know why the minutes hadn’t been posted in the traditional, easy to access format yet. She said they would be up by the end of the day Friday. 

“We need to do a better job in having them up in that easy-to-access format,” she said. 

The council will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 400 S. Fourth St., DeKalb. The Committee of the Whole meeting begins at 5 p.m. 

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