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Hermosa Beach Council Hastily Chooses a City Clerk


Elaine Doerfling didn't have to wait long to become Hermosa Beach's new city clerk.

The City Council picked her the day she applied.

Trying to meet a Dec. 27 deadline for filling the part-time, $1,245 a month job, council members on Tuesday chose Doerfling, formerly a deputy city clerk for Manhattan Beach, from a hastily assembled five-candidate field.

"If I were hiring someone for my company, I wouldn't hire someone after just a few minutes," Councilman Robert Essertier complained after failing to persuade colleagues to meet again this month so they could deliberate longer. " . . . I hope we didn't make a mistake."

Mayor Roger Creighton said the council did not need more time because the field was strong. And the two-page application form filled out by each one, he said, made it easy to compare their strengths and weaknesses.

The city clerk position, an elective office, became vacant when former clerk Kathleen Midstokke was elected to the City Council last month.

Faced with a choice between holding a special election or picking someone to serve the two years remaining on Midstokke's term, the council on Nov. 28 decided to appoint. Under state law, however, the council had to have its appointee in place in 30 days--on or before Dec. 27--city officials said.

By the time the city's Dec. 6 deadline for applications had passed, only two people had applied--Sherie Nelson, who was defeated for reelection as Torrance city clerk in 1982, and David MacCormick, a transactions clerk at a Shearson Lehman Hutton office in Pasadena.

Nelson, who worked as an executive secretary for a bank in Torrance until October, was charged in 1981 with misdemeanor marijuana possession. The charges were dropped after she completed a counseling program, she said.

On Tuesday, the council voted to accept late applications from Marilyn Pierce, a retired Pacific Bell employee, Merna Marshall, former executive secretary to the mayor and City Council of Redondo Beach, and Doerfling.

In an interview last week, Midstokke said she had questions to ask Nelson about the drug charge as well as her tenure in Torrance. But no one on the council asked any questions about either issue during brief interviews of Nelson and the other four candidates.

Doerfling and Marshall, both of whom turned their applications in on Tuesday, were the only two candidates to have their names formally placed in nomination. Initially, three council members favored Doerfling and two favored Marshall, then the council selected Doerfling unanimously.

Doerfling, 45, was deputy city clerk for Manhattan Beach from March, 1983, to September, 1986, and worked before that as a secretary in the Rancho Palos Verdes Environmental Services Department. Her husband, Hank Doerfling, was a Hermosa Beach City Council member from 1972 to 1980.

In an interview, Doerfling said she has recently worked as a minute-taker for several local agencies while pursuing an undergraduate degree in journalism at El Camino College. She said she intends to drop the secretarial work to become clerk but will continue her studies.

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