This article was written by BenitoLink intern Andrew Pearson.
With the election just over two months away, San Juan Bautista is scrambling to find candidates for city clerk and city treasurer. No citizens filed to run for the vacating offices, even after an extended nomination period.
Laura Cent was a city employee before she became the current city clerk in 2018, when she ran unopposed. The clerk is an elected official, not an employee, although a city employee may also serve as clerk. When it came to why she is leaving the position, she said “I chose not to run again.”
The job of a city clerk can be difficult. The clerk prepares the agenda for each city council meeting, makes a record of each meeting, certifies and maintains these records, and serves as guardian for the city’s book of ordinances and official seal. Within living memory the clerkship was an unpaid position, but it now comes with a stipend of $100 per month.
“It’s a rotating seat, it’s really hard for us to keep anyone in the city clerk seat,” said Deputy City Clerk Trish Paetz.
Still, the post creates opportunities.
“If [a clerk] is new to clerking there’s a lot to learn, but there’s a lot of training” on offer from the state of California, Cent said. “You can become a certified municipal clerk and after that you can become a master city clerk.” Despite the ceremonial pay and job conflicts, “you have an opportunity to serve your community.”
Chuck Geiger has served as treasurer for the last eight years. “I’ve enjoyed it,” he said, “but I’ve also reached the age of retirement.” The city treasurer is normally a “busy” person, balancing tax revenues and state grants against the city’s expenditures, and Geiger expects the new treasurer’s hands will be even fuller than usual during the coronavirus shutdown. The treasurer’s compensation is also $100 per month, said City Councilman John Freeman.
The San Juan Bautista City Council could appoint someone to the role, and Geiger is willing to take it on again until the next election cycle in two years.
From Sept. 8-Oct. 20, the city will take applications for official write-in candidates. The write-in applicants must complete a Statement of Write-In Candidacy and gather 20 signatures from registered voters on a nomination petition. The names of the candidates who complete the application within that period will not appear on the ballot, but they will be printed on a list. Copies of the list will be distributed at the Community Center, San Juan Bautista’s historical polling place, with the ballot given to each voter on Election Day.
According to Paetz, nomination paperwork is available from the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 311 Second Street (Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) by appointment. Other requirements for write-in candidates are on page 45 of the county candidate handbook.
For questions, or to make an appointment to meet with the deputy city clerk, contact City Hall at (831) 623-4661, extension 13.
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