The Making of a Great Oxnard City Clerk

By Peter K. Godinez, Ambassador to Public Sector, SoCal Office Technologies – A Xerox Company


The position of the City of Oxnard Clerk plays such a vital role in the success of the city. Yet its importance has been overlooked compared to the other offices in this largest city municipality in the tri-counties of California (Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo).


History, People and Facts about Oxnard City Clerks

The 1st recorded City Clerk of Oxnard was  elected on Monday April 11, 1904 and only the individual’s last name was reported (Elliott).  As of this writing, the 1st City Hall record was Tuesday, June 30, 1903 and the 1st recorded Mayor of Oxnard was R. B. Haydock.  There are very few to no photos or facts on the internet and Oxnard history books of the City Clerks in Oxnard prior to 1980.  Unlike many great Oxnard names of history who have buildings, streets, schools and parks named after them (Haydock, Driffill, Bard, Saviers, Maulhardt, Oxnard), there are no noticeable landmarks for these individuals listed.

Begin Date End Date Name of City Clerk Time in Office
June 30, 1903 April 11, 1904 R. B. Haydock (1st Mayor) 9 months, 12 days
 April 11, 1904 April 09, 1906 (First) Elliott 2 Years
 April 13, 1908 January 03, 1911 Barclay S. Braddock 2 years, 8 months
January 03, 1911 April 03, 1914 George R. Billah 3 years, 3 months
April 03, 1914 April 11, 1944 Frank B. Pettis 29 years, 11 months
April 11, 1944 April 11, 1972 Ethel H. Dale 28 years
 April 11, 1972 April 08, 1980 Mildred Foster 7 years, 11 months
April 08, 1980 November 03, 1992 Mabi Covarrubias 12 years, 6 months
November 03, 1992 November 16, 2016 Daniel Martinez 24 years, 13 days

Notes of Interest:

  • There have been 8 City Clerks in the history of Oxnard
  • 3 of the 8 were women
  • The City Clerk who held the office the longest was Frank Brockman Pettis (one month short of 30 years)
  • The shortest term was held by Mr. Elliot with 2 years.
  • The approximate average term is 13 years, 9 months
  • The only City Clerk to die in office was Barclay Braddock on January 3, 1911
  • Mabi Covarrubias married Michael Plisky in 1985. Plisky was a City Council Member and Mayor Pro-Tem in the early 1990


CACityClerkAssocWhat does an Oxnard City Clerk Actual Do?

The City Clerks Association of California (CCAC) defines this position as a local official responsible for elections, local legislation, the Public Records Act, the Political Reform Act, and the Brown Act (open meeting laws). Before and after the City Council takes action, the City Clerk ensures that actions are in compliance with all federal, state, and local statutes and regulations and that all actions are properly executed, recorded, and archived.

The City Clerk has a staff who they lead who have responsibility for the care of official records and documents of the City such as agendas, minutes, resolutions, ordinances, and for providing and maintaining legal and historical records and information.

The City Clerk and staff also coordinate all municipal and special elections held by the City, coordinate the annual boards, commissions, and committees’ recruitment process, administer a citywide records management program, and regulations relating to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Oxnard City Clerk Mission



Salary for Oxnard City Clerk (Not including benefits)

  • Bottom $103,000
  • Current Position $128,771
  • Top $142,100
  • The total median household income in Oxnard is $60,736.

So, with the generous salary and benefits, the lack of an incumbent and the pressing need for information and transparency, it’s no surprise that there is a flood of candidates, some of them very impressive, for the office.

City Clerk  Candidate Michelle Ascencion notes: How unique Oxnard is in that it elects its City Clerk. In most California cities it is an appointed position. More often than not, an elected City Clerk is mainly a part-time ceremonial position with limited duties, as it is in Fillmore, Santa Paula, and Ojai. The day-to-day office responsibilities fall to the Deputy/Assistant City Clerk in these cases.


What Can the City Clerk Learn from the County Clerk?

While a County and City Clerk run their infrastructure different, there were some benchmarks and best practices.  It is important to establish these items.

  • Develop and implement new systems and procedures and, to the extent possible, current records and management technology. Is the City Clerk working with the Technology Department to keep them accountable to continue keeping up to date the best tools and techniques?
  • Use a variety of current computer–based document transcription, storage, and retrieval systems and various types of standard office equipment.
  • Exercise good judgement and decision making when clear cut mandates and procedures do not exist.
  • Expectation of Integrity, Openness, Commitment and Courage


What Can the City Clerk Learn from the Corporate/Business Industry?

  • Customer Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Listening to the “Voice of the Customer”
  • Repeat Customer Business (Happy Customers Come Back)
  • Referral Business (Happy Customers Tell Others)
  • Success Stories (Reputation Builds a Business)
  • Pay for Performance
  • Stack Ranking of Performance Measurements
  • Inspect what you Expect


The Oxnard City Clerk Profile

Do personality, traits, temperament and characteristics play an important part of a successful City Clerk? If you are expecting high performance and long term success for such an elected official it is an important area to examine closely.

  • Characteristics of integrity, practical logic and tireless dedication to duty
  • Upholds traditions, rules and standards, while also seeking improvements and innovations
  • Enjoys taking responsibility for their actions
  • Meticulous attention to detail and focus on processes
  • Highest level written and oral communication skills
  • Holds back none of their time and energy, completing each relevant task with accuracy and patience.
  • Relays the facts necessary to achieve their goal, expecting others to grasp the situation immediately and take action(s)
  • Have little tolerance for indecisiveness, but be assertive if their chosen course is challenged with impractical theories, especially if key details are ignored.
  • Work with the authority clearly conferred by voters, but cooperatively with other officials/agencies, to set and achieve their goals for the benefit of the residents.
  • Adhere to established applicable laws, regulations, rules and guidelines , reporting their own mistakes and telling the truth even when the consequences for doing so could be disastrous.
  • Have no other view than to promote the public good (Public Servant vs. Politician).
  • Nothing is quite so challenging as ongoing debates about who is responsible for what, resulting in work that’s shoddily assembled – or worse, incomplete.


Successful Public Service – A Balanced Triangle of City Council, Manager and Clerk

Selecting the best Oxnard City Clerk is a very important element of making this community a great place to live and enjoy life with your loved ones.  It is elected position that pays quite well ($120,000 plus annually) for the high level of responsibility it carries, and as history has proved, has a potential long term responsibility (average approx. 14 years).  The significance of this position has not been historically recognized to the degree it deserves.  The following diagram entitled “Public Service – A Balanced Triangle” does an excellent job of highlighting the significance of the City Clerk contribution by way of their relationship to the City Manager and City Council, City Attorney and other departments. Credit to California City Council Association



Here is a list of 2016 City Clerk Candidates (In order as they appeared on below link)

Alex Rey Rivera

Bryan Patino

Deshay Ford

Jose Torres

Michelle Ascencion

Peter De Domenico

Sylvia Paniagua

Tiffany Lopez

To See Statements from Candidates Running for Office in Ventura County please visit:

The Citizens Candidates Corner section or

All Ventura County offices candidates (278 candidates)

Editor’s note: Thanks also to City Clerk candidate Michelle Ascencion for her contributions to this article.- or Facebook page, Michelle4Oxnard, Candidate Statement


Comments by candidate Alex Rey Rivera:

Thank you so much for writing this wonderful article that spotlights the history of our City Clerk’s office. Knowing that 3 of our 8 clerks have served for longer than 24 years really inspires. I have the courage to listen to the people’s voice and will promote the Public Good. In recent years a separation has entered into the Triangle of the City Council, City Manager & City Clerk. I want to bring Balance back to the Triangle and ensure the decision making process is open and not secretive. I have taken an oath to comply with all Local, State and Federal regulations and will follow and record the Law. I will the dynamic point of contact to the public for information requests and in providing quality customer service. I love this city and will be the public servant that embraces technology to improve our records management. I intend to implement a digital signage program for the Council Chambers so the citizen attendees can see proposed motions and votes. I will lead the way in the postings of meeting agendas, improve our record keeping and coordinate informative election cycles. I will apply my experience in business from logistics and administration to improve our process and deliver results to the Community. I will make a great City Clerk and ask you for the opportunity to prove it. 
Alex Rey Rivera for Oxnard City Clerk | 805.487.1776 |, Candidate Statement
Comments by candidate Peter DeDomenico:
The the Brown Act, the Political Reform Act and California election laws, and the Public Records Act all directly govern the activities of the City Clerk. If the City Clerk does not understand how these laws work, Oxnard is at risk. Oxnard risks the acts of its City Council being invalid. Oxnard risks the voters losing faith in the fairness of local elections. And Oxnard risks expensive lawsuits over perceived election violations or over the failure to provide access to public documents.
Please note as well that the City Clerk is not a partisan position. Unlike the offices of Mayor and City Council (which are executive in nature), the City Clerk is a fundamentally administrative position. The City Clerk should strive to be free of political bias—to enforce the rules fair and square, regardless of political affiliation. The Clerk must work effectively with whoever wins the election.
Peter De Domenico, Candidate for Oxnard City Clerk

Peter K. Godinez is a longtime document management professional in the information services industry, as well as a Citizen of Oxnard who desires to see this community thrive to the best of its abilities and potential.

LinkedIn Profile:

Peter Godinez
Education & Public Sector Account Executive
Tel: 800-769-2679
Cell: (818) 430-6945

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Steven Nash
Steven Nash
4 years ago

The City Clerk’s office has become antiquated and out-of-step with the realities and needs of the community. Digitize public documents, provide accurate Spanish translations, respond to FOIA requests via the internet and many other BMP’s need to be implemented by the incoming City Clerk.

This is a very important office. As an elected office, the City Clerk must place the health, safety and welfare of the community first and demand the resources from the City Manager to do their job!

Vote for competence, experience and innovation!