Endorsements: Yes to appoint, not elect, clerks in Wheeling, Des Plaines

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 2/28/2020 10:24 AM

Voters in Des Plaines and Wheeling get to decide whether to keep or abolish the elected position of clerk.

Under the proposed change in Des Plaines, the city manager would appoint a clerk. In Wheeling, the village president would appoint a clerk with the advice and consent of the board of trustees.


Having an elected clerk position may have made sense in the early days of these towns, which then were small communities with small governments that often operated informally. Over the years, however, the cities and their governance structures have grown in size and complexity, and the requirements of record keeping have become a management job that requires significant skill.

Electing someone to a low-profile, part-time job paying a few thousand a year that is largely ceremonial while most record-keeping duties lie elsewhere in the administration makes no sense.

The change, if approved by voters on March 17, would take effect in the municipal elections in the spring of 2021.

Of the two proposals, we like Des Plaines' better -- making the appointment an administrative duty that is part of the city manager form of government. The mayor, city clerk and city manager all support the change.

"Many other suburban towns have appointed, rather than elected, city clerks," City Clerk Jennifer Tsalapatanis said, adding she is not interested in the position.

In Wheeling, village President Pat Horcher said that if he is reelected, he would work with the village manager to appoint the deputy clerk, a trained professional, subject to the consent of the village board, he said.

We feel voters should enthusiastically support these moves to simplify government.

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