By Shawn Raymundo
Two seats on the city council’s dais will be up for grabs this fall, as well as the positions of city clerk and city treasurer.
Depending on how San Clemente residents vote on a series of potential ballot measures, the clerk and treasurer positions could instead transition into council-appointed ones, while a two-term limit could be imposed on councilors.
The council earlier this month voted, 4-0, with Councilmember Chris Hamm absent, to have city staff draw up a resolution calling for the series of measures to be included on the ballots for the Nov. 3 General Election.
Should the council adopt the resolution this summer, one measure would ask voters whether the elected council seat should be limited to two four-year terms. If passed, a councilmember could serve again after a two-year lapse in service.
Another two measures propose having the currently elected clerk and treasurer seats transition instead to positions appointed by the council body.
Joanne Baade is the current city clerk; the city treasurer position is currently held by Mark Taylor.
According to a 2018 agenda report on the possible ballot measures to transition the two positions, the city explained that the ballot would propose two main questions regarding each seat.
The first would ask whether the office of the city clerk and city treasurer should be appointive and then followed by “yes” and “no” options. The second question would ask which candidate they support if that particular office remained elected.
“The impartial analysts that will be prepared by the City Attorney would state that if a majority of voters voting on the transition measure favor making the office appointive, then the ‘winning’ candidate would not be sworn in or serve, because their office would have been eliminated by the express terms of the transition measure,” the report stated.
To consolidate the city’s municipal elections for the councilor, clerk and treasurer positions with the elections that the Orange County Registrar of Voters will conduct this November, the city is estimating to spend between $65,486 and $83,346. The cost to add each measure is about $8,500.
Last summer, following the unexpected death of Mayor Steve Swartz, which prompted a special election this past November, the council had considered placing the measures on the special election ballot, as well as one to increase the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).
Those plans were abandoned, however, because most of the measures were determined to be ineligible for inclusion in an all-mail ballot election, which was the route the city took for the election to fill Swartz’s seat.
The term-limit measure, the city noted in its report this month, couldn’t be included on the ballot last fall, because state law requires such a proposal can only go before voters in a regularly scheduled election.
The city had previously put a TOT-increase measure before voters in 2016 and again in 2018. Both attempts failed, as more than 50% voted against the proposed 13% increase in 2016 and roughly 54% rejected the proposed 12.5% increase in 2018, according to the city.
The city council on Monday, March 2 opted not to include another ballot measure proposing a TOT increase for the upcoming election.
City staff is expected to have a draft of the resolution calling for the ballot measures ready for the council to review by early June.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.