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Johnsburg may take clerk selection to ballot

JOHNSBURG – The village attorney doesn’t think it’s legal, but the Johnsburg Village Board is going to give it a vote anyway.

At a special meeting called for Sunday morning, the board will vote whether to put a referendum on the April ballot to ask voters whether they want to elect their clerk.

Currently, 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.

Johnsburg resident and village president candidate Maggie Haney wants residents to have a choice. She brought the issue before the board Jan. 8 and advocated for it again at Thursday’s Village Board meeting.

The board doesn’t have the authority to put the question on the ballot, though, Village Attorney Michael Smoron has maintained since the first meeting. Residents can petition to get the issue on the ballot, he said.

Regardless, the board will hold a special meeting to discuss the issue and vote.

Village President Ed Hettermann said he doesn’t have a problem with the clerk being elected as long as that’s what the residents want. He said he is concerned about the Village Board doing something it’s not allowed to do.

“I’m reluctant to do anything the village attorney doesn’t think is legal,” he said. “That’s why we have a village attorney.”

But Hettermann doesn’t get a vote. The village president votes only to break a tie.

Despite planning to vote for it, Trustee Ron Zanko said he isn’t optimistic the ordinance to put the referendum on the ballot will pass. If the referendum makes the ballot, and voters approve it in April, the next election in which they would pick a clerk would be November.

“I have no problem with the position being elected,” Zanko said. “There’s always talk about transparency in government, and if one individual wears all the hats, it does not portray transparency. It’s too much power under one person’s control.”

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