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Board vacancies in need of fresh voices, leadership

There are some important takeaways from an issue that arose during the course of this year, leading up to November’s general election.

They have to do with public service in the form of local government volunteer boards.

Earlier in the year, a woman applied for a position on the county planning department. When it came time for the appointment to be made, and at the 11th hour, her name was withdrawn from the agenda of the county commissioners and replaced with the name of a man who had not applied.

“Foul” was the cry from the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, which studied the issue of the appointment of women to voluntary county board positions and found only 17 percent of all such positions were filled by women.

When the issue was raised at a forum for county commissioner candidates, the point — and a very valid one — was made that the county, much like other local government agencies, suffers from a lack of volunteers willing to serve time on government boards. Regardless of gender, there are not enough people offering to fill important volunteer posts.

Another question that arose during various political campaigns, and not just for county commissioner, was one of leadership and experience. There were many people seeking election to important offices. They had experience that spoke of their very capable abilities. Some lacked familiarity with government operations.

We’re not saying that inside knowledge is required, but we are saying it’s helpful. It shows an understanding of the hoops and hurdles, the challenges, that government leaders face. Plus, getting involved and serving on local boards fills a great need in our communities, whether those boards are county or municipal.

The general election has been settled, but gaps on government bodies remain. We encourage those who have some extra time and consider themselves community-minded, including those whose campaigns fell short, to step up and volunteer as openings occur on local boards and commissions. January will be a prime time for vacancies to occur as board terms expire. In an ideal world, there will be no vacancies, yet we’ve watched local government agencies struggle over the years to keep volunteer boards filled. It seems that that does not need to be the case in 2020.

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