City Boards and Commissions: Opportunities to Serve

A week or so ago, the City put out a press release detailing the current openings on City boards and commissions. Applications are being accepted through the end of this month for the Arts and Culture Commission, Building Code Board of Appeals, Design Advisory Board, Environmental Quality Commission, Grace Whittier Fund Committee, Heritage Preservation Commission, Human Rights Commission, Library Board, Park Board, and Planning Commission/Zoning Board of Appeals.

From the release:

Over 100 citizen members annually provide valuable leadership to the City through their participation on these groups and special study committees. As the titles of the groups suggest, the members participate in advisory, regulatory, governance and oversight activities in a wide variety of fields. The City Council is committed to appointing citizens who represent diverse qualifications and viewpoints and values the knowledge, collective experience and efforts of these groups.

Read the whole release here (PDF).

Believe me, the city needs help! If you have professional expertise or a passion for any of these issues, I’d encourage you to get more info and then toss your hat in the ring. Application forms are available at the Administration office at City Hall (645-8833) or online at the City website.

See you at City Hall!


  1. Thanks for posting this, Tracy. In addition to helping the city, serving on boards and commissions is a great way to learn about how the city operates and meet the staff, Council members, and other citizens who share your interests. It’s a good deal.

    Two other points:

    1. New Council members and the Mayor have stated in their campaigns they wanted to give boards and commissions a stronger voice – I was one of them and while reviewing the draft land use regulations, I can see some ways we’ll have to work to make this happen. But, my real point is that this is a really great time to join city boards.

    2. Some boards and commissions have a bigger time commitment than others. Tracy can tell you about the amazing hours and number of worksessions Planning Commission members logged while working on the Comprehensive Plan and even without special projects, the PC meets 2x per month and has a lot of homework. In contrast, many others meet only 1x per month with varying degrees of preparation needed – so it’s possible to choose bigger or smaller time commitments.

    November 10, 2008
  2. Victor Summa said:

    I think it’s noteworthy to point out here that there is in reality NO DEADLINE for submitting one’s name in application for a seat on a Board or Commission.

    Each year toward the year’ss end, staff seems to think they have to shake the tress to get interested persons to apply. While these occasional announcements may stimulate applications, there is no deadline. It is possible that names submitted do not meet the Mayors desire to fill an appointment. It is the mayor’s choice. Charter defines this part of the procedure. Once a application has been submitted, it stays in the que for possible selection for a year.

    Conversely, names submited by the announced deadline, do not guarantee a selection by the mayor. He/she may be dissatisifed and seek other names not yet submitted … or ask again for another round of submissions.

    Finally, (my opinion) the incoming mayor (Mayor Mary) should be the mayor who picks form the applications and sends her recommendations to the council for its approval. Why? The Mayor, by charter rule, has this privilege and perhaps, has a vision. Putting people with like visions on Boards and Commissions is one way as Mayor, to achieve your goal.

    So, apply, and talk with your mayor. If she doesn’t know you get to know her.

    One more note: If you submitted an application earlier in the year, it would be prudent to check with the city Administrator’s office to make sure your application is still in the file.

    Boards and Commissions are the spine of our local government.


    November 11, 2008
  3. Bill Ostrem said:

    Thanks for your attention to this, Tracy, Betsey, and Victor. Our Task Force on Nonmotorized Transportation currently has two seats open; we have seven members now and can have as many as nine. The Task Force is scheduled to run through this July. Don McGee has expressed his interest in applying for one of those two seats.

    We are especially in need of women members, since all our members are currently male (three past women members have moved on, one [Betsey] to City Council). We are also in need of people interested in pedestrian/walking issues, since cycling advocates are well represented already.

    Task Force members are approved by the Park Board rather than the mayor, and letters stating your address, interest, and background can be sent to Brian Erickson at or Maintenance Facility, 1710 Riverview Drive, Northfield MN 55057.

    November 13, 2008
  4. Mary Rossing said:

    Thanks for the discussion and encouragement for citizens to get involved! This is a great time to put an interest in your community to action. There is so much work to be done–and hard work can be both fun and gratifying. As Victor said, come in and talk to me about your interests, if you like, and then apply at City Hall. If you also have a recommendation of someone who you think would be great on a certain board or commission, but who might need a little encouragement, let me know this as well. Citizen involvement will be critical as we move forward, and will be appreciated.

    November 14, 2008

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