DeKalb Voters Think City Clerk is an Elected Office. DeKalb’s Ordinances Say Otherwise


We know from our recent examination of the doctrine of incompatible offices that compromising the loyalty of an elected officer is prohibited. A person holding elected office cannot hold any other role — as employee, appointee, or a second elected office — that could reasonably be expected to conflict, or even appear to conflict, with the first elected office. A person occupying elected office has one loyalty, and that’s to the electorate. Nobody else is the elected person’s boss.

In DeKalb government, this is true of city council members and the city clerk. Both are elected positions and nobody should buy the story that any of these elected officers are also employees of the municipality, for to do so invites perversion of the original intent of an elected office.

As we saw in the post about incompatible offices, however, DeKalb holds itself to no such standard, but instead chooses to create confusion by pretending that the city clerk’s position comprises a dual role, that of officer and employee at the same time.

Moreover, some of the offenses committed against the doctrine of incompatible offices are way worse than the confusion sown verbally by city staff. For reasons we will examine at a later date, the corporate authority (city council) of DeKalb has in recent years approved ordinances in line with an appointed clerk instead of an elected one. In a very real way, the corporate authority has usurped the statutory powers placed with the elected city clerk and vested them in the city manager.

Below is a comparison of Illinois statutes and DeKalb’s ordinances involving the city clerk.

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Perhaps you’ve heard or read about people wishing to “restore” the office of city clerk in DeKalb. When we speak of “restoring” the clerk’s office, we are not only referring to the inadequate pay or the petty refusal of the city manager to give her an office; we are talking about the need to reverse the wholesale subversion of the voters’ will that is evident in Chapter 3 of the DeKalb Municipal Code.

This post is the second in a series. The first one is here.