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Choosing village clerk at issue in Johnsburg

JOHNSBURG – The challenger to Johnsburg’s village president wants residents to decide whether the village clerk is appointed or elected.

Maggie Haney asked the Johnsburg Village Board at its meeting Thursday to adopt a resolution to put the question on the April ballot.

She has filed to run against Village President Ed Hettermann in the April 9 municipal election.

In Johnsburg, the duties of village clerk – taking meeting minutes, signing paperwork and election obligations – are handled by Village Administrator Claudett Peters. Other village employees assist in taking minutes.

It may be difficult to find someone who is willing to take on those responsibilities as a volunteer, Village Attorney Michael Smoron said. That’s why the positions of village clerk and administrator were combined in the first place.

“Surprisingly, there has not been an outpouring of interest in residents wishing to serve as the village clerk, going to two or three night meetings each week or more when there is more ongoing zoning or development activities,” Smoron said.

While Smoron said he wasn’t sure whether the board had the authority to adopt a resolution that would put appointment or election of a clerk on the ballot, he said board members could discuss the political ramifications, such as pay, of such a vote and decide what they would do if residents expressed an interest in a change to the current setup.

Board members agreed they should look into the issue and asked Smoron to investigate the matter.

“I think the board should discuss it more at another meeting as an agenda item, know what the pros and cons are of doing it that way,” Hettermann said. “What are the advantages? What are the disadvantages? Why wouldn’t we want to do it, and why would we want to do it from an operations standpoint of moving forward with it?”

Trustee Mary Lou Hutchinson said she wouldn’t be rushed.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to rush into it if we’re talking about a salaried position because that really impacts our budget,” Hutchinson said. “We haven’t had one thus far. I think if we’re really going to vet it out and do the right thing, especially when it comes to spending money, we shouldn’t be pressured by a couple of weeks’ deadline.”

The deadline to adopt a resolution to get a referendum question on the April ballot is Jan. 22.

Because village officials didn’t know the law, Haney said she isn’t confident the petition would be handed appropriately. Therefore, she doesn’t plan to start one, she said, but continue to pursue the matter through a board resolution.

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