“All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into that work — the joyous work of citizenship. Not just when there’s an election, not just when our own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.” – Barack Obama
Last January, I called these words patriotism, distilled. Today, I’d like to encourage you to take up a part of that joyous work of citizenship here in our own community.
Participate in local government as a volunteer board member
The City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) has done a pretty good job of building citizen involvement into the fabric of our government. There are over 30 citizen boards and commissions whose purpose is to advise our government on various issues.
Most importantly, each board member brings their personal values. These values will shape their recommendations, which will in turn impact the decisions of the Assembly.
I think the CBJ Boards, Committees & Commissions Informational Pamphlet explains it really well (emphasis added):
CBJ has approximately 35+ boards, committees, commissions, ad hoc task forces, and working groups which we will commonly refer to as “CBJ Boards.” These boards provide a way for the public to participate in the City’s decision making process by advising the Mayor and Assembly on numerous issues. In a democratic form of government, it is not only a right but a responsibility for citizens to help shape the community in which we live. This is realized when individuals come together across neighborhood, economic, social, and cultural lines to serve as board members, assisting our local government in making decisions that affect all the citizens within our community.
According to the City Clerk’s Office, board and commission members participate as volunteers. You can sit on most of these bodies without having a degree or a fancy resume. What you need is a willingness to show up and do the job.
And, what is the job? For most boards, there is a regular meeting. Your job as a board member would be to 1) prepare for the meeting by reading any materials that had been provided, 2) attend the meeting, and 3) participate as needed to meet the group’s mission.
Following is a list of boards and commissions with vacancies . Some of them have a deadline, and a few are looking for people with specific skills or traits. But, all of them contribute to the lives of people here in our community by advising the Assembly on various issues.
- Animal Hearing Board 3 seats (1 Veterinarian & 1 Animal Interest Group Member
& 1 General Public Member) for various terms
- Board of Equalization 5 seats for various terms
- Douglas Advisory Board 2 seats for full terms (Applications due September 6)
- Jensen-Olson Arboretum Advisory Board 1 seat for an unexpired term
- Juneau Commission on Aging 3 seats for individuals age 65 years or older and 4
additional seats with no age restrictions. (Applications
due September 6)
- Sales Tax Board of Appeals 1 (Attorney) seat for an unexpired term
- Treadwell Arena Advisory Board 1 seat for a full term
- Utility Advisory Board 1 seat for a full term
In my opinion, the most important innovation in the American experiment is the idea that we all have a place in determining our government’s behavior. Here in the City and Borough of Juneau, we are lucky enough to have a municipal government that provides a lot of opportunities to be involved.
So: show up, be heard, and bring your values. There’s the work of citizenship to be done!
The views in this opinion piece are those of the author. They are not official positions of TongassDemocrats.com or the Tongass Democrats.