Clerk should be elected

Published 11:34 am Thursday, March 3, 2016

As a registered voter in the City of Dowagiac, I have reservations about the proposal that will be on our March 8 ballot.

This proposal, if passed, would change the position of Dowagiac’s city clerk from an elected position to an appointed position. At the Feb. 22 City Council meeting, the following came to light:

• The city clerk is responsible for conducting all elections. I want a voice in choosing the person who fulfills this sacred task.

Also, after the retirement of James Snow, the position was reduced from full-time to part-time. I question the wisdom of this decision, especially in view of the fact that we are so close to holding presidential primaries and elections.

• The city clerk’s duties have been restricted in recent years and the clerk has not been performing duties outlined in the Dowagiac City Charter (see Section 5.11) —duties that were assigned to the city clerk with the intention of creating a checks-and-balances system among the city clerk, city treasurer and city council.

• A proposal to change the city treasurer position from elected to appointed will appear on a ballot in the near future.

• Making the city clerk position an appointed position would allow for requirements of education and experience for persons applying for the position. At first glance, this looks good — until you consider the fact that there are no such requirements for anyone running for elected office.

The competency of candidates is determined by voters during pre-election campaigns, and I think Dowagiac voters are wise enough to figure out if a candidate is qualified.

I feel that making the position of Dowagiac city clerk an appointed position would lessen our choices and voices in city government. I will be voting “no” on March 8.


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