Only 288 voters in the City of Hillsdale -- a city in which there are over 8,000 residents -- turned out Tuesday to voice their decision on two amendments to the city charter, both of which passed by a very slim margin, 52% to 48%.
A mere 11 votes made the difference to change the City Clerk position from elected to appointed; and only 12 votes set the majority apart on the similar City Treasurer question.
The ballot issues, originally slated for November, were voted on this month after City Attorney Lew Loren, unilaterally and against the City Council's orders, moved them to the date set aside by state law for primaries; an election for which Hillsdale did not have the sufficient number of candidates for any office required by the city charter to trigger a primary.
Explaining why the change had only come to the City Council's attention after they had already voted on it, Loren said at the June 1st regular meeting that the state Attorney General's office advised him that the August ballot should be used to avoid having the issues on the same ballot that included elections for those positions. When City Councilperson Adam Stockford pointed out to him that exactly that situation had taken place when the city last voted on the City Clerk matter in 2011, Loren vehemently denied the fact, arguing that the 2011 measure was to make the treasurer position appointed in case of a vacancy.
Stockford later posted a copy of the 2011 ballot on his Facebook page, disproving Loren's argument.
The outcome of Tuesday's vote effectively ends the race for the City Clerk and Treasurer positions; a race in which several write-in candidates were vying for votes on the November ballot.
Addressing the ballot issues at that same meeting, write-in candidate for city clerk Pam Osmun spoke frankly in opposition, saying that "At this point, there are people actually running for this position; the citizens should be able to vote for the best person for those positions, according to the charter."
The city charter will now be amended to reflect the results of the vote, and Mayor Scott Sessions will have the authority to make appointments to the City Clerk and City Treasurer positions with approval of the City Council.
Author's Note: The original version of this article failed to mention that the City Council had voted to approve the August date prior to being informed of the change. The relevant sentence has been corrected.