About the Colony

Let’s make Atascadero clerk and treasurer appointed positions

City Hall in Atascadero.
City Hall in Atascadero. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

I’m not very good at balancing my checkbook. In the majority of cases, I just adjust to what the bank statement says I have. If the bank is wrong, I’ll never know. My eyes gloss over when I read a financial document such as a profit and loss statement. Being an English major, I have a natural proclivity to a fear of numbers and making sense of them.

I am, however, thinking about running for Atascadero city treasurer. Oh, I know it is past the deadline to get on the ballot, but there’s next time. It pays $200 a month (already set to increase to $400 a month in January). You even get health benefits.

What? You say I’m not qualified? According to California law, I am fully qualified to serve as either city treasurer or even city clerk. To qualify for either office, you need to be at least 18 years of age, a resident of Atascadero and a registered voter. The city is prohibited from establishing any other requirements.

I’m in!

But my political plans may be foiled. Atascadero voters will face a ballot issue in three weeks that asks: “Shall the office of city clerk be appointive?” and “Shall the office of city treasurer be appointive?”

Absolutely.

Although City Clerk Marcia Torgerson and City Treasurer Gere Sibbach were elected, neither is on the ballot for re-election. Their terms expire in 2018.

Both jobs are appointive by every city in San Luis Obispo County except for Paso Robles and Atascadero. Many years ago, both jobs might have been considered “mostly ceremonial.” That isn’t so today.

My own stepdaughter is a city clerk in Taft. Taft voters will be facing the same ballot issue on Nov. 8. As she explained it to me, the job has become very technical over the years with stiffer requirements to maintain public records, administer municipal elections, maintain candidate campaign forms and a whole lot more.

In place of these two jobs being elective, they would be appointed. A qualified city staff member more than likely would be assigned “city clerk” or “city treasurer.”

Almost three-quarters of California cities have an appointed city clerk, and two-thirds have an appointed city treasurer.

Having both offices filled by a qualified person would reduce the risk of electing someone such as me with a hidden political agenda and no qualifications.

These jobs would more than likely be appointed by the city manager to someone already on staff, so no additional employees need to be hired.

I suggest we vote in favor of making both jobs appointive.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 805-466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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