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Welcome to the California Ethics and Democracy Project (CEDP). City Clerks are dedicated people who serve in a largely unseen but critical role that enables the function of local government:
“The City Clerk is the local official who administers democratic processes such as elections, access to city records, and all legislative actions ensuring transparency to the public. The City Clerk acts as a compliance officer for federal, state, and local statutes including the Political Reform Act, the Brown Act, and the Public Records Act. The City Clerk manages public inquiries and relationships and arranges for ceremonial and official functions.” (CCAC, www.californiacityclerks.org)
City Clerks operate on the principle of impartiality regarding the policies and elections over which their offices have purview. As such, they are uniquely well-suited to implement good government programs in a fair manner, without the perception of impropriety.
At their best, City Clerks serve as “Chief Democracy Officers” for their communities, engaging people in a robust and proactive manner regarding public service. By providing voters with tools to be more effective consumers of political rhetoric, they can raise the caliber of debate and build public trust in a meaningful way.
To be clear, City Clerks as individuals are by no means perfect or supremely ethical. Few people in any role are suited to be models in every respect, especially in light of the largely subjective lens of personal ethics. And, City Clerks do not attempt to define the ethics of others.
However, City Clerks are an underutilized resource as a champion of democracy, to influence the body politic in a more transparent and positive manner. The California Ethics and Democracy Project is an effort to provide the models, collaboration and skillset through which those who have a will to serve in this role can do so more effectively.
Please see more in these pages, and in the years to come. My best and Go Clerks!
Rod Diridon, Jr., MPA/MMC
Chair, California Ethics & Democracy Project
City Clerk and Auditor, City of Santa Clara
© 2020 California Ethics and Democracy Project