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By C. Jayden Smith

San Clemente residents might not have to elect a city treasurer and city clerk in future elections, as they could become council-appointed positions.

The City Council will soon consider adding two ballot measures to the Primary Election in June or General Election in November, asking voters to choose whether the city clerk and treasurer positions should be elected or council-appointed.

A city report on the measures came at the request of Mayor Gene James and support of Mayor Pro Tem Chris Duncan and Councilmember Steve Knoblock during their Dec. 7 meeting. The council was initially scheduled to discuss the topic on Tuesday, Dec. 21; however, it was unable to do so because of time constraints.

According to the staff report, the city is already looking at paying between $89,276 and $128,933 to consolidate San Clemente’s elections with the County of Orange’s General Election.

To add the two measures, the city would have to pay $17,000, or $8,500 each, to the November election—when three council seats are up for election. The city would also be obligated to pay $5,000 for other related costs such as transportation and publication.

San Clemente’s other option is to call a special municipal election that could be consolidated with California’s Primary Election on June 7. Based on the Orange County Registrar of Voters’ estimates, the cost of submitting the two ballot measures as part of the Primary would range from $120,973 to $165,529.

While it’s up to the council to decide, city staff noted that adding the measures to the November elections “would be the most economical option, because the City is already mandated by State law to conduct an election on that date for the purpose of filling three upcoming vacancies on the City Council.”

The city has been grappling with the issue of transitioning the city treasurer and city clerk offices to appointive positions since 2018, when there was a separate agenda report that discussed adding the two ballot measures.

The topic came up again in May 2020, when the council came to a stalemate. Councilmember Kathy Ward and former Councilmember Chris Hamm opposed the measures’ inclusion on the General Election ballot during a straw poll.

The council is expected to address the matter at an upcoming meeting.

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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