“Sierra Madre City Clerk Milestone” for Beacon Media Newspapers

March 2008

For the first time since her first term in 1984, Sierra Madre City Clerk Nancy Shollenberger will run opposed in April, against community volunteer Karma Bell.

The City Clerk’s duties and compensation have also been an issue of debate and alteration for over a decade.

Various California government code sections specify the responsibilities of a city clerk and a January 8th Sierra Madre City Council report listed 15 duties such as, “Administer and file oaths of office for each City officer, keep an accurate record of the proceeding of the legislative body in books bearing appropriate titles and devoted exclusively to such purposes, respectively, maintain official city records, and act as the accounting officer of the city [who] shall maintain records readily reflecting the financial condition of the city.”

Other duties the clerk performs that are not specified by law but are based upon custom and practice are “notary and assist[ing] the public, provid[ing] information, and prepar[ing] reports for matters within the City Clerk’s purview,” according to the report.

Currently, City Clerk Shollenberger is paid a $250 monthly stipend in addition to $650 a month for minute preparation and $6500 for conducting municipal elections, and this previous arrangement was reinstated last month.

In 1996 the City Council added the $650 amount and $5500 for elections and in 2003 when the City Council decided against giving Shollenberger a raise they reassigned the duties she was performing for $650 per month to the Administrative Analyst in the City Manager’s office for $500 per month in April 2004 and Shollenberger’s duties returned to those being performed for the $250 stipend.

Sometimes the minutes were as much as four months behind and this is what started an outcry with residents,” said Shollenberger. “We want the minutes on time.”

Though Shollenberger was denied another raise she requested in December of last year, which was $1,000 for preparing council meeting minutes, publishing ordinances and other duties in addition to the $250 and $6500 amounts, she informed the council in January that she was leaving her compensation to their discretion.

“I am sure I was put back because it was an election year and I feel the majority of the residents want me to be city clerk so that’s why I’m running again,” said Shollenberger.

If elected, Shollenberger said she will not ask for a raise.

“I’m not causing all that uproar again. It’s not worth it.”

Shollenberger’s opponent Karma Bell proposed changes of her own if elected city clerk in April.

“One of the things I want to do is bring the office of city clerk back to City Hall,” said Bell. “It’s an elected position and the clerk is one of the first people that a community member might want to access and so I believe that clerk should be available at City Hall and [people] not have to make an appointment for her to come into City Hall.”

Shollenberger currently keeps City Hall hours from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. every Wednesday and she said she has “yet to have a visitor or a phone call.”

City Hall transfers calls for Shollenberger to her home office when she is not at City Hall.

“I’ve had my own secretarial service since 1972 so I do a lot of the work in my office because I have all the equipment and it’s more convenient than running up to City Hall,” said Shollenberger. “I get phone calls early in the morning and late at night, but I’ve made it very convenient for the residents of Sierra Madre to reach me so you can’t say I’m unreachable.”

Bell said she will consult with the City Council and staff as to how many City Hall hours to hold if elected but said “it will definitely be more than one hour a week.”

A volunteer and president for local organizations such as The Sierra Madre Elementary PTA, Sierra Madre Little League and the Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce, Bell said she had thought of the city clerk position previously, but this is the first time she has been free of other commitments.

“This town has been absolutely wonderful to me and my family and I want to continue to give back,” said Bell. “I have a good working relationship with City Hall and staff and believe I can do a very good job.”

In various organizations Bell began as a recording secretary and typed minutes as well as held occupations that required significant typing so Bell said she is “a very fast typist.”

Even though Shollenberger has to campaign for city clerk for the first time she said the city may have done her a favor by having someone oppose her.

“It gets me in the public and talking with everyone so it’s been a good experience and my tenure as city clerk has been very rewarding so I’m not willing to stop yet,” said Shollenberger. “I love Sierra Madre and I love to serve the people so as long as I’m able to I feel why not?”

Next month will be a first for Bell as far as running for office and a first for Shollenberger as she will see a name for city clerk besides her own on the ballot.

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