Appointed Vs. Elected Clerks: Which is Better?

ballot for elected officialRecently on our LinkedIn Group, The City Clerk Café, someone posed the question, “Which is better – elected or appointed clerks?” and asked for feedback regarding how their city clerk positions are filled and what the pros and cons are of each.

We thought this brought up a great topic of debate and would like to share with you some of the benefits we (and fellow city clerks) came up with when it comes to both types of city officials.

Pros to Appointed Clerks

No campaign garbage. When a clerk is appointed, they don’t have to spend time campaigning and rallying, so there is no election mail, campaign flyers, and yard signs to produce, procure, and assemble just to end up in the landfill someday.

No time taken away from the candidate for the election. Campaigning takes time, and often clerks have enough to do without marketing themselves to the public.

Ability to set specific requirements. Appointed clerks can be appointed on a strict set of requirements and qualifications developed by their peers, versus being elected based on public opinion.

Appointment is based on qualifications, not popularity. In some cases, a highly qualified candidate may be overlooked in an election because a candidate who campaigned better is on the ticket, even if they are less qualified.

Pros to Elected Clerks

Neutrality in power. An election can neutralize the power between the council and the constituents. Many believe that since the city clerks work for the constituents, they should be elected by them as well.

More opportunity for more potential candidates. An election allows clerks that may not have had the opportunity to be appointed to campaign for their spot based on their skills, experience and abilities. This can lead to possibly discovering a candidate that might otherwise been overlooked.

More community support. Elected clerks may be given more credibility, trust and community support based on the fact that they were elected by the people.


Your turn! Are you an elected or appointed clerk that can share your experiences with us? Tell us, which is more effective–electing clerks or appointing clerks–and why?

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