Elected vs. appointed City Recorder

UPDATE: January 20, 2016
The Council at its January 19 meeting agreed to postpone for a year consideration of the ad hoc committee recommendation to seek a charter amendment to make the city recorder an appointed position.  During that time, a subgroup consisting of Mayor John Stromberg, Councilor Stef Seffinger, Councilor Rich Rosenthal and City Attorney Dave Lohman will address a variety of questions.  These include:
1. If appointed, who would select the  city recorder?  The  mayor, council or the city administrator?
2. Would the city recorder be supervised by the city administrator?
3. Would it be possible for the city recorder to have the same selection and supervision status as the city attorney?
3. Would the recorder be a department level position?
4. Would  the recorder have a full time assistant as is currently the situation? 
This Council sub-group will also examine:
  • Charter language that may need to be changed in the charter and Ashland Municipal code.
  • Whether some duties that  the city recorder performs can be appropriately performed by other departments.
  • A legal opinion concerning  whether the position if elected can require minimum qualifications in the city charter or AMC
  • Can hours of service and required duties be included  in charter or code. if so can there be more clarification of procedure for removal from office if these duties are not met beyond what is currently in the charter. 
Because no changes will be made during the term of the current city recorder (which expires at the end of 2018), the Council felt comfortable taking the time to further explore these issues.

January 14, 2016
Ashland is one of only three cities in Oregon that has an elected rather than an appointed city recorder.  The other two are Prescott and Elgin, population 55 and 1,725, respectively.  Last September, the City Council appointed an ad hoc committee to study the question of whether the recorder should be an appointed position.  Changing from an elected to an appointed position would require voter approval of a charter amendment. After examining the duties of the position, the history of the position and how the position is structured in other cities, the committee is recommending that the City Council refer a charter amendment to the voters in the May 2016 election that would make the recorder an appointed position.
In Ashland and in virtually all cities, the city recorder serves as the clerk of the Council; responsible for taking and maintaining minutes of Council meetings, maintaining records of all ordinances, resolutions and other Council actions, maintaining custody of all other city records, and working with County election officials to facilitate candidate and measure filing for all city elections. Many cities assign other duties to their city recorders which can range from responsibility for human resources to oversight of information technology. In Ashland, the charter and the municipal code assign a variety of accounting and treasury duties to the city recorder.
In summary, the committee felt that having an appointed city recorder better ensures having qualified candidates for the position.  Currently, the only requirement for the job is that the person holding it be a registered voter in Ashland.  The committee also felt that having an appointed position would create a larger field of qualified candidates for the position and that administrative positions should be filled on the basis of the knowledge, skills and abilities of the candidates through an application process rather than an election.  Click here to see the full text of the committee’s recommendation and its rationale for that recommendation.
The City Council will consider the recommendation of the ad hoc committee at its January 19 business meeting. The meeting begins at 7 PM in the Council chambers at 1175 East Main St. Public testimony is welcome on all items on all Council agendas. To see the full text of the materials to be considered by the City Council including minutes of the ad hoc committee meetings, click here.

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