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Local Column

Mayor Smith: We must find unity between city offices

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith
DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith

Two weeks ago, at the conclusion of our City Council meeting, I stated that we as a City Council are entrusted to do the right thing. At the time, I joined four aldermen who thought that the issues that we faced would be best served by approving an ordinance that would allow the appointment of a city clerk.

And while this City could certainly join a host of other Illinois municipalities in making this change, it was clear that we had not adequately listened to a citizenry that had voted, by referendum, that DeKalb’s city clerk should be an elected position. And, after meeting with DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato, it was very clear that passing the ordinance would put us on thin ice.

Our City Manager Bill Nicklas was of like thinking, and publicly reversed his stance and agreed that we will should continue with the position being elected. In doing so, he has recommended that we defeat – on second reading – the ordinance that called for an appointed city clerk. That we accomplished this week.

During the last couple of weeks, both City Clerk Lynn Fazekas and executive assistant Ruth Scott – who had been carrying on the duties as Clerk Fazekas’ deputy, have felt harmed by an onslaught of remarks, commentary and published comments. Neither deserved this treatment.

It has not been an easy task to bring the kind of unity between our City Manager’s Office and the Office of City Clerk – a task that I’ve continued to undertake since early June. We’re still not there yet – with differing views on how we can serve the public with the administrative duties that need to be accomplished.

I hope that over the coming weeks we can, indeed, have an honest, thoughtful discussion among all parties to stamp a resolution to our differences. To do otherwise would be shirking the duties that we have pledged to carry out. We must do the right thing.

• Jerry Smith is the mayor of DeKalb. Reach him at 815-748-2099 or email him at jerry.smith@cityofdekalb.com.

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