Today, between the Council’s 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. meetings, there will be a reception for the members of this year’s Leadership College. Each year, a group of 20 or so residents spend eight Thursday evenings together, learning about their City and how it operates, and meeting the people who deliver the services necessary to make it successful. In addition to the importance of helping people understand their government, a valuable function of the Leadership College is to prepare citizens for community leadership and service to the City. I thought with this post I would take a few moments to share the role and importance of our many citizen boards and commissions.
More Than the Council
Most people are, of course, familiar with the Mayor and City Council, and recognize the important role they play in the success of the City. A few may even be familiar with the Planning Commission or the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. But did you realize there are dozens of boards and commissions covering a myriad of topics, without which much of what we do as a City simply could not get done? These boards and commissions address such things as long range planning and land use, transportation planning, fair housing, recreation, economic development, social services, airport operations, arts and culture, education, and much more. Most of these boards and commissions are made up of citizens appointed by the City Council and each play a vital role.
Between Politicians and Bureaucrats
The Mayor and City Council are, of course, elected and are therefore understandably responsive to political considerations. Because they are directly accountable to the voters, they must seek out the will of the citizenry while honoring their ethical and constitutional obligations. This political approach requires them to be very responsive to the issues of the day. Bureaucrats, in this case City staff, are at a considerable distance from the day-to-day politics of the community. Since they are not elected, they are able to focus on the longer view and, at times, take positions that while in the interest of the general welfare of the community, may prove unpopular. Between these two positions often stands a board or commission member—neither politician nor bureaucrat. Board and commission members are everyday people who can temper the approach of staff while avoiding the need to venture into the immediacy of politics. This allows less political, more common-sense decisions to be made both in the long-term and short-term interest of the community.
Where Do I Sign Up?
With dozens of boards and commissions in existence, the Council is consistently seeking new members. Seldom does a Council meeting go by where the agenda doesn’t include some discussion of board or commission membership or appointments. The Council is regularly in need of interested citizens—those who are willing to learn, exercise thoughtful and fair judgment, and able to put in the work necessary to contribute to the future success of the City. Does this sound like you? If so, click here to take a look at the opportunities listed on the City’s website. You may also talk to the Mayor or a Council member about your interest, or contact the City Clerk’s Office, [email protected] or 853-2541, to gather additional information.
— Bob Cowell
It is your government, and without the help of folks just like you it doesn’t work. How about joining us?!