Newly Elected San Bernardino City Clerk Has To Fight For Respect

SAN BERNARDINO—The recently elected city clerk in the county seat has found herself in the unwanted glare of publicity, controversy and challenge as the city council this week turned back her request to boost her salary even as the electoral opponent she narrowly defeated in February is taking her and the registrar of voters to court to contest her victory.
Hanna, who was sworn into office March 5, had expected to be paid a salary of $11,307 per month or $135,684 per year, based on the $2,713.68 filing fee she was required to pay to run for the office. In San Bernardino County the filing fee is calculated at two percent of the yearly salary for the elected office in question.
Hanna has since been informed she will actually be paid $9,302 per month, or $111,624 per year, the low end of the pay scale for city clerk in San Bernardino.
In San Bernardino, there are eleven levels, or steps, to the remuneration paid to the city clerk. In considering Hanna’s request, the council determined that Hanna will need to progress through each stage of experience and remuneration city clerks are traditionally subject to.
One councilwoman, Wendy McCammack even suggested that the council should consider having Hanna voluntarily give back ten percent of her salary as a show of solidarity with other city officials and employees who have agreed to such pay reductions to help the city with its efforts to offset its ongoing budget deficit.
When city attorney Jim Penman said that the giveback could not be imposed on the city clerk, the council stopped short of doing that, which would have reduced Hanna’s pay to $8,371.80 per month or $100,461.80 per year. Hanna did not accede to McCammack’s hint and offer to take the pay reduction. The entire episode prompted some residents in attendance at the city council meeting to question Hanna’s commitment to civic duty and suggest that she was being greedy.
Meanwhile, Amelia Sanchez-Lopez, against whom Hanna eked out a razor-thin victory in the February 7 election, is proceeding with legal action to contest Hanna’s victory.
Represented by the Los Angeles-based law firm of Leal-Trejo, Sanchez-Lopez is petitioning the court to require San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Michael J. Scarpello to consider 28 sworn declarations of voters in which the affiants insist they cast ballots in the February 7 election that were wrongfully disqualified. Scarpello’s office threw those ballots and 36 others out because signatures on their mail-in envelopes were inconsistent with the signatures on those voters’ registration cards. The affiants claim they are and were indeed eligible to vote.
Shortly after the completion of mail-in balloting on February 7 in which 12,143 voters participated, Hanna was declared the winner by three votes. Sanchez-Lopez requested a recount, and on February 21, the registrar’s re-tallying of the votes gave Hanna a six-vote margin of victory.
Penman, who had supported Sanchez-Lopez during her campaign, assisted her in tracking down several of the 64 voters whose ballots were discarded by the registrar. Those voters had not been informed that their ballots were disqualified and 28 of them have now signed affidavits declaring themselves to be eligible voters. Twelve of those are plaintiffs in the suit asking for all 64 discarded votes to be considered in a final official vote count.
Hanna has retained Los Angeles-based lawyer Daniel K. Abramson to represent her in the matter. The registrar’s office will be represented by county counsel. Hanna appears to be secure in her office for at least six months, as the matter will not be heard until September 13.

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