Evanston aldermen tonight are to consider whether to hold a referendum aimed at turning the city clerk’s job from an elected to an appointed position.
The proposal, initiated by Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, is on the agenda for the Rules Committee meeting to be held at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at the Civic Center.
Several aldermen have raised questions in the year since Devon Reid was elected city clerk about various aspects of his job performance — from the preparation of meeting minutes to the handling of Freedom of Information Act requests.
And former clerk Rodney Greene’s spending of city funds to have himself listed in a Who’s Who publication became an issue in last year’s campaign.
The current budget for the city clerk’s office is just under $200,000 a year including $64,120 in salary for the clerk. The clerk is the only Evanston elected official in whose role is considered to be a full time position.
It’s unclear whether switching the clerk’s job to an appointed position would result in any financial savings to the city.
In a memo to aldermen, Interim Corporation Counsel Michelle Masoncup says the state constitution permits home rule governments to change by referendum the manner in which municipal officers are selected.
And, in 1974, Masoncup says, the state supreme court upheld the power of the Village of Arlington Heights to use a referendum to change the clerk’s job there from elected to appointed.
Her memo says the City Council would have to adopt a resolution approving the referendum question before Friday, Aug. 17, to get it on the ballot for this November’s election.
If the referendum were approved, Reid would continue to serve out the remainder of his term, but a new clerk would be appointed by the mayor, subject to the advice and consent of the City Council in May 2021.
Clerk gets to keep FOIA role (10/17/17)
Clerk’s role as FOIA officer in doubt (9/28/17)
Taxpayers paid to put clerk in Who’s Who (2/20/17)