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Wisdom of city manager appointing city clerk questioned
Debby Moorhead
Debby Moorhead

 Councilwoman Debby Moorhead believes it might make more sense for Manteca if the council appointed the city clerk instead of the city manager.

Moorhead asked at Tuesday’s special council meeting for City Clerk Lisa Blackmon to research the legal options that exist in California for general law cities as to how the city clerk position can be filled and provide the information to the council at their next meeting.

Moorhead said she wanted to look at the options and decide if they are “good for us or not.”

Moorhead on Thursday said she wanted to make sure the city clerk worked for the council and not the city manager when it came to council-specific issues in addition to the legal requirements that the position must fulfill under state law. Most cities are organized so that the city clerk is a department head while a few convey the title of assistant city manager on the city clerk making it clear who may be in charge of overseeing the running of a city in the city manager’s absence.

The California Government Code allows for the city clerk in general law cities such as Manteca and charter cities such as Stockton to be directly elected by voters or appointed by the City Council or City Manager.

Manteca during its first 81 years as an incorporated city had city clerks that were voted into office directly by voters. That changed in 2000 when voters approved a measure allowing the council to appoint the city clerk.

At that point the previous City Clerk — Joann Tilton who served in the position for 32 years — had run unopposed in four different elections for four year terms. 

The decision to put ta measure allowing the appointment of the city clerk on the ballot was triggered when the late George Dadasovich opted not to run for re-election as city treasurer.  When he stepped down in 2000, he had served as city treasurer for 47 years. At that time the League of California Cities said he was the longest serving elected official in the state.

The council after the ballot measure was approved gave the city manager the authority to appoint the city clerk. The majority of the council could change that by either voting to have the council appoint the city clerk or placing a measure on the ballot asking voters if they want to return to the direct election of the city clerk.

The City Clerks Association of California website notes that as of November 2006 154 or the state’s 478 city clerks are directly elected by voters.

Currently only two city employees are appointed by the council and therefore report directly to the council. They are the city manager and city attorney.

The city manager is empowered to run the city based on policy decisions the majority of the council makes. The city manager hires all other department heads.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email