DeKalb City Council awaits clerk’s formal resignation

Aldermen react to City Clerk Liz Peerboom’s sudden plan to leave

Note to readers: This story has been changed from its original version to accurately reflect when the office of DeKalb city clerk will next be up for election if Clerk Liz Peerboom submits a formal resignation this week.

DeKALB – After the abrupt email announcing she was leaving her position, city leaders are waiting to receive City Clerk Liz Peerboom’s formal resignation this week before appointing a replacement.

Peerboom, who won a race among four write-in candidates for the clerk's office in April 2013, resigned Friday by sending Mayor John Rey an email, a move Rey said disappointed him.

In her email, Peerboom slammed changes City Manager Anne Marie Gaura has implemented since starting in January. Peerboom also claimed Gaura did not share enough information about how city staff would fulfill the city clerk's functions once long-time Deputy City Clerk Diane Wright left Thursday.

Rey said the points Peerboom made in her emailed resignation didn’t give him any concern over Gaura’s actions.

“I fully realize under City Manager Gaura there are structural changes that are occurring within the city organization,” Rey said. “Individuals are going to respond to those changes in different ways. Some will embrace them and join the new team and put 110 percent effort in. Others may not have that same reaction. We can’t dictate that reaction. That’s an individual response.”

City Attorney Dean Frieders informed Peerboom over the weekend she needed to submit her resignation in writing, which he said she would do later this week.

If Peerboom submits a written resignation this week, Rey can appoint someone to fill the position until the April 2015 municipal election, when voters will select someone to fill the remaining two years of her term, according to state law. DeKalb aldermen would have to sign off on the appointment, Frieders said.

In the meantime, the city’s two remaining deputy clerks will absorb the city clerk’s duties.

Peerboom was the first clerk to serve in the position since aldermen voted to make it a part-time position with a $5,000 annual salary. Their decision came after Steve Kapitan's 2012 resignation from the position he was elected to in 2009 after reportedly failing to comply with the state's Open Meetings Act.

City Council members decided that a deputy clerk position would become a full-time job that would handle most of the clerk’s duties not given to the clerk by law.

First Ward Alderman David Jacobson stood by the council’s decision to scale back the position. He questioned some of Peerboom’s complaints, including that she did not have her own desk at City Hall, noting aldermen also do not have desks there.

While he offered some sympathy for her concerns about changes in the city, Jacobson said Peerboom should have talked to aldermen before resigning.

“Quitting without discussing it with anyone doesn’t seem to push the ball forward,” Jacobson said.

DeKalb resident Lynn Fazekas, who also ran for the city clerk position, contended the low salary and lack of a desk, paired with the duties of the deputy clerks showed city leaders’ disdain for the elected clerk position.

“The bottom line here is that the clerk’s office needs to be restored,” Fazekas said.

Sixth Ward Alderman Dave Baker said he would prefer the city clerk be a position appointed by the mayor, but respected that voters have twice since 2007 voted against allowing the post to be an appointed position.

Baker said he hoped Peerboom would run for the position again. He suggested council members increase the salary to around $30,000 so whoever became city clerk would be able to act as a whistle blower between aldermen and staff while also completing their legally assigned duties.

“We certainly don’t want somebody pretending to be able to do the job come in and not do the job,” Baker said.