The recent departure of the long-time City Clerk has resulted in the council seeking changes to the elected positions salary while the seat is vacant.
The resolution sought to reduce the city clerk’s compensation to $25,000 per year, from $125,000, and remove the $550 per month reimbursement for “allowance for mileage and business expense” currently provided to the position.
The resolution outlines the reduction in duties as the clerk’s office no longer handles processing of passports, has consolidated elections with Los Angeles County and regular duties are now performed by the Chief Deputy Clerk.
Councilman Jawane Hilton feels the move would make the position “beholden to the city manager”. Hilton then alerted the residents to the change via a recorded voice message.
“I want to alert you to item #31 that appears on the June 15 city council agenda. The Mayor and Council (Not Me) want to reduce the elected City Clerk’s salary and have already slashed the City Clerk’s staff to just two people. Now they want to take the salary and expect the person to work,” said Hilton. “The CLERK and treasure are two elected officials that we have they do not serve at the pleasure of the City Manager. That is the way it should be. Someone should be in City Hall looking out for the benefit of all of the residents and not have to answer to a City Manager who the council can dismiss at any time.”
On April 6, City Clerk Donesia Gause-Aldana announced her departure after nine years of service to Carson residents. Gause-Aldana was announced as the new city clerk for the city of Riverside.
Gause-Aldana was a deputy city clerk in the city of Compton for three years, and an analyst in the Long Beach City Clerk’s office for eight years before replacing Helen Kawagoe as Carson’s City Clerk in 2012.
Two years after her appointment, then Mayor Jim Dear ran for the city clerk’s position and won. Gause-Aldana in turn ran for a city council seat and won. After Dear was recalled from the position, under suspicion he was seeking to pad his retirement, Gause-Aldana returned as the city clerk.
Her office came under fire related to the added service of passport processing, which allowed her to add additional staff to the office.
Hilton was concerned the council is seeking to make a “power grab” of the office who is charged with organizing and printing out the agenda for the city council’s bi-weekly meetings, managing, and maintaining and monitoring the city’s records of all official council actions, contracts and bonds.
“The office of the City Clerk is arguably the most vital City Office in providing transparency to the residents of any municipality, serving as the City’s elections official, legislative administrator, and records manager,” explained Hilton to the Wave. “The City Clerk has proven especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic in which residents and other stakeholders of the city of Carson limited in their ability to properly interact and engage with the City. The council should not get involved in personnel matters and the office needs to maintain independence from the council if we are to have fair elections and the preservation of our democracy.”
The resolution failed 2-2, with Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes and Hilton voting no, and Councilmen Jim Dear and Cedric Hicks abstaining.
The council voted to place the vacancy up for a November special election and had the resolution passed, the candidates would be aware the position is “ceremonious” with reduced duties and salary.
When asked if he thought the council would bring back the matter, he was unsure.
“I don’t think it will be brought back, but hey, it’s Carson,” said Hilton.