Pitkin County seeking a few good volunteers
Serving on one of Pitkin County’s 19 volunteer citizen boards provides a prime opportunity for anyone who wants to get involved in local government in a meaningful way, county officials said.
“After the last election … people are saying, ‘Wait a minute — what’s going on here?’” Pitkin County Commissioner Greg Poschman said. “Serving on a citizen’s advisory board is a great way to get involved.
“It could be a lot more effective than sending emails and signing petitions.”
And now is an excellent time to apply for the boards, said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock. There are currently 26 vacancies on 12 different boards and the county is making a strong push to try to fill them in the near future, he said.
“The idea is to create more democratic decision-making and help elected officials make decisions for the community,” Peacock said. “It’s really a part of how local democracy works.”
Howie Mallory, a longtime member of the county’s Open Space and Trails Board, praised volunteer citizen boards as a way for community members to provide perspective and insight to elected officials.
“It’s good to have people more thoroughly exposed to what goes on in government,” he said.
County commissioners are respectful of board members’ opinions, and volunteer participation helps hold the government accountable, Mallory said.
Poschman, who was elected to his first term on the county board in November, suggested during the campaign that the county might want to establish term limits on the volunteer boards to promote new voices. Now, he has taken the lead in a broader discussion about the volunteer boards.
The ideas he’s batting around include designating a member from each board as the person in charge of recruiting new blood, having people who have served two terms on one board transfer laterally to another if they’re still interested in serving, and possibly streamlining the workloads and meeting schedules of the more active boards so working people can serve, Poschman said.
At the same time, preserving institutional knowledge among long-serving board members also is important, though such knowledge also could be applied on other boards, he said.
“It doesn’t really feel as if there’s enough citizen input from (the community’s) changing demographics,” he said.
Still, Poschman said these are merely ideas he’d like his fellow commissioners to discuss, and that he isn’t sure yet which ones will work best.
Commissioners are scheduled to discuss the topic Tuesday at the board’s weekly work session, Peacock said.
“Our board really respects the advice of these boards and appreciates the work they’re putting in,” he said.
Currently, the 12 boards with vacancies include the Agricultural Building Review, the Board of Adjustment, the Conflict Committee Pool, the Election Commission, the Financial Advisory Board, the Healthy Rivers and Streams Board, the Open Space and Trails Board, the Pitkin County Library Board, the Redstone Historic Preservation Committee, the Senior Services Council, the Translator Advisory Board and the Weed Advisory Board.
Anyone interested, can go the county’s website at http://www.pitkincounty.com, hover the cursor over the “Our Community” tab at the top and then click on the “Citizen Boards” tab on the far left under “About Pitkin County.” That citizen boards page contains instructions on how to apply for the various boards. Finalists are interviewed by county commissioners, who later decide who to appoint.
“We’ll find out how committed the population is here,” Poschman said.
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