Sycamore City Clerk referendum will be on November ballot

Sycamore City Council approves referendum which will ask voters about future of clerk’s office

Sycamore Mayor Steve Braser looks down as Sycamore City Clerk Mary Kalk writes down votes during a City Council meeting on April 15, 2024.

SYCAMORE – Sycamore voters will have another question to answer this year, as the Sycamore City Council on Monday approved a plan to place a referendum on the November ballot which could change the City Clerk’s Office from elected to appointed.

The General Election is Nov. 5. Mary Kalk holds the position of Sycamore City Clerk currently, and was elected to a second term in 2021. She was first elected to the office in April 2017, beating out four other candidates. She ran unopposed in 2021.

Kalk has declined to comment on the referendum specifically. City Manager Michael Hall said this week the referendum has nothing to do with Kalk’s job performance and that he would seek her appointment if the referendum passes.

“This is nothing about Mary, at all, this is about the position. And in fact, if it were to be turned into appointed position, my recommendation to City Council would be Mary for this position,” Hall said. “Again, nothing about Mary. This is all about the position and changing it to appointed position.”

Sycamore Mayor Steve Braser said he researched the idea before it was put on a City Council agenda in March. Braser previously said he believes the Northern Illinois Mayors Association would be 100% behind the city making the clerk job an appointed position.

Braser said Monday he believes it’s not an uncommon practice for a city to have its clerk position filled by appointment.

“Most cities, when they became a city manager form of government like we are, did away with it because there’s really nothing political about the position,” Braser said. “I think it’s much better to have a qualified person.”

Hall – who was awarded his job after he was recommended for the roll by Braser, and subsequently received City Council approval in December 2021 – said having voters elect city clerks is “a remnant of the past.”

Before the Sycamore City Council unanimously voted to place the referendum on the next ballot, Hall said city officials will have to create messaging explaining why the city is asking the question of voters in the first place.

“I feel like we need to do a lot of educational pieces, because if we’re just asking the question and people don’t understand why – that’s going to be the problem,” Hall said. “We’re going to try to put some things out explaining why we’re doing this.”

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