Illinois Statutes Versus DeKalb Municipal Code in the Matter of the City Clerk

Just yesterday, we were comparing the positions of city clerk as practiced in Sycamore and DeKalb.

You can see from that post that Sycamore and DeKalb treat their city clerks very differently, though this was not true in the past.

To continue the comparison: Sycamore’s municipal code follows the applicable Illinois statutes, while DeKalb’s differs from state law in several ways.

To show this, I’m bringing back a table I published in April that describes how DeKalb’s municipal code differs from Illinois statutes in four important ways. DeKalb began deviating from the statutes following the resignation of clerk Steve Kapitan in 2012.

[table id=94 /]

The deviation is not simply an application of home rule powers, either. Sycamore has home rule, too. It just doesn’t appear to apply in the matter of municipal officers. A publication offered by the Illinois Municipal League has summarized eight exceptions to self-governance via home rule. Here is exception number seven:

Providing for officers, their manner of selection and terms of office, except as approved by referendum or otherwise authorized by law…

It’s quite likely, then, that DeKalb has codified improper exceptions to state law regarding the city clerk. There’s certainly precedent, such as when the city violates the Open Meetings Act, or, even more relevantly, breaks the rules for when the mayor votes.

Most important here, though, is the wholesale upending of the mandate given by the people in 2012, when a resounding majority of more than 70% of voters said they wanted to retain an elected clerk. Even more recently at public meetings, citizens have made clear that the only legitimate way to retain the elected clerk is to provide for a full-time position with pay that is adequate to attract and retain elected clerks and clerk candidates, to return the city seal to the sole custody of the city clerk, and to restore the power of the clerk to staff the office as he or she sees fit.

Yeah, like Sycamore does.

So far, the will of the voters is being ignored by council and by local media. It is imperative that we tap more DeKalb voices by informing others of this unsatisfactory state of affairs. The proper election of the next DeKalb city clerk depends on pushback now.

Hit the “city clerk restoration” tag at this site, and the “Restore the City Clerk in DeKalb” Facebook group, for more information. Share freely.