Dowagiac voters should retain right to choose clerk

Published 11:29 am Thursday, March 3, 2016

On Tuesday, March 8, Dowagiac citizens will have an opportunity to weigh in on a proposed city charter amendment, changing the city clerk from an elected to an appointed position.

I am not opposed to changes in the city charter, which is more than 50 years old and has several sections and provisions that are clearly out of date and in need of review and revision.

However, I am not convinced that eliminating elected positions are among them.

One of the main responsibilities of the clerk is to administer and oversee the election process. I prefer to have a clerk in charge of the process who is accountable through that process him or herself, and not to a nonelected city official.

Additionally, the clerk is the “keeper of the records” of the city and his/her election ensures an independence from other administrative and elected officials, which is not necessarily the case with an appointed position.

As I recall from my high school civics class, “separation of powers” and “checks and balances” are crucial philosophies in a democracy and are no less applicable at the local level of government.

I take my voting responsibility very seriously and I am loath to relinquish this right simply because “everyone else does it this way.” My candidate for a particular office may not win, but I still know that I have had important part in the election process.

I hope that, as you consider this ballot proposal in the election booth on March 8, you will decide that you want to retain your right to choose and will vote “no.”


Diane Barrett-Curtis