Centennial needs checks & balances

The Mayor, the Treasurer and the City Clerk are the only officials elected city wide, to protect the interests of everyone. Do we really want to eliminate two out of three? Editor: So writes Linda Gawlik, the elected clerk of Centennial, and potentially the last person who will ever hold that post, if voters approve the city's proposed home rule charter in a June 10 election. She was replying to a story in the Centennial Citizen, March 27, entitled "The Case of the Missing Clerk and Treasurer." Here is her letter in full:

In your article, I found two quotes by Cathy Noon, chair of the Centennial charter commission that I would like to address. One quote stated, “The city clerk doesn’t run elections. The county clerk does that.”

I would like to clarify that the June 10, 2008 special election to vote on the proposed city charter is being handled by the Deputy City Clerk of Centennial, Brenda Castle, an employee of the city. Mayor Randy Pye named Castle the “Designated Election Official” in the fall of 2007. As I was not sworn in as City Clerk until January of this year, I do not know what precipitated that appointment. I do know that Arapahoe County Clerk Nancy Doty has had no input in the preparations for the city election. Doty was unable to handle a third election this year because her office is fully engaged with the August primaries and the November elections. I am sure Mayor Pye or City Attorney Robert Widner could clarify why Centennial’s proposed charter election could not be included in the August or November elections.

I would liked to have been more involved in the city’s upcoming election, but Castle told me it is a “one person” job right now, but she would be willing to name me as one of the three Election Judges she will be appointing. After giving this more thought, I believe I must recuse myself from the city’s election process because the proposed charter eliminates both the elected Treasurer and City Clerk positions. I believe these positions should be elected and therefore I have a vested interest in the outcome of the election, as does Castle.

The second quote from Noon was in reference to both the City Clerk and Treasurer positions. She stated, “No particular training is required for either job—…” I believe Noon has missed the point of having elected officials who report to the voters, not the Mayor, City Council or the City Manager.

I would like to point out that no elected official is required to submit a resume to run for political office. However, voters find out about all of their candidates through campaign literature, campaign speeches, the media, gatherings to “meet the candidates,” and word of mouth. The voters decide the person that they want to represent them for every office. The fact that the Mayor and previous members of the City council saw fit to eliminate any “real power” from these positions, as Noon pointed out, should highlight to the citizens of Centennial the need to continue to have elected officials who can remain independent of city control.

All elected officials represent the voters and should be respected and valued because they represent their constituents. The Mayor, the Treasurer and the City Clerk are the only officials elected city wide and they are expected to protect the interests of everyone in the city by being the eyes and ears of the voters. Do we really want to eliminate two out of three? Transparency is essential to good government if we want to regain the trust of the voters.