CARSON — Residents will vote to elect a new city clerk in a special election Nov. 2. Six candidates are seeking to fill the vacancy created when former City Clerk Donesia Gause-Aldana vacated the seat in April.
Carson residents will choose from a member of the Water Replenishment District board, chief of staff to state Sen. Steven Bradford, a former city employee and three others to lead the office that is responsible for running municipal elections, publishing official notices, responding to records requests and preparing the department’s annual budget.
Clerk candidates are Jeffry Caballero, Monette Gavino, Falea’ana “Ana” Meni, Myla Rahman, Leticia Wilson and Vera Robles-DeWitt.
Four of the six candidates, Gavino, Meni, Rahman and Roble-DeWitt, responded to questions that were sent to all the candidates
All of the candidates agree passport services should be restored in the City Clerk’s office, however, one candidate believes an assessment is needed to determine if it it feasible to do so.
“I will do my best to restore the passport processing service,” Gavino said. “It will be a decision of the City Council.”
Meni said she would seek to restore the passport services. “Not only did it provide a centralized accessible location for Carson residents, the funds received from providing passport services funded two full-time support staff in the City Clerk’s Office,” she said.
Rahman said she would have to do an assessment of the office before committing to restoring passport services “to make sure the office has enough staffing and resources to provide the highest quality of public service possible.”
Robles-Dewitt said “The passport program was an extremely popular and important program offered by the city of Carson to the community. … More importantly, the passport program was not only financially self-supporting, but it actually generated additional revenue for Carson.
All of the candidates have a firm grasp on the duties and function of the offices, with one candidate having previously worked in the office.
“Having observed the role of the city clerk in the numerous council meetings that I attended, and studying the duties and responsibilities of city clerks in California in general I am very confident I will be very successful as the Carson city clerk,” Gavino said.
Meni said she worked under longtime City Clerk Helen Kawagoe for many years.
“In addition to making sure that all local government actions are compliant, the city clerk is the local official accountable for local elections, public transparency and access to public records,” Rahman said.
Robles-DeWitt added: “The City Clerk’s Office is supposed to be the official record keeper of the city and serves as the watchful eye for residents to ensure transparency and be a back-stop to any shenanigans by the City Council.”
All of the candidates have lived in the city of Carson for more than 10 years and are regular attendees of council meetings either in person, or via Zoom due to the pandemic.
The city clerk position is a non-partisan seat.
In June, the council deadlocked on reducing the salary of the position from $125,000 per year, to $25,000, citing the removal of certain duties from the office, which would reduce the clerk to a figurehead, with the bulk of the work being performed by the deputy city clerk.
When the item appeared on the council agenda, it drew the ire of Councilman Jawane Hilton.
“The clerk and treasurer are two elected officials who do not serve at the pleasure of the city manager. That is the way it should be,” Hilton said. “Someone should be in City Hall looking out for the benefit of all of the residents and not have to answer to a city manager who the council can dismiss at any time.”
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.