By: Martha Leavitt May, 2010
As a twenty plus year resident of Lawrence, I have always tried to serve this community in both my personal and professional life, while also trying to balance the needs of my family. My father did the same and I hope to instill that responsibility in my children as well by continuing my volunteer work for this city whenever possible.
Recently, the Mayor’s office issued a call for applicants to fill the more than thirty open seats on the various boards and commissions that make up the backbone of city government, through the zoning process, the historic commission(s), the retirement board, the planning board and many other critical volunteer and paid positions that help guide the direction of the future of our city. The previous administration left many positions vacant, or in some instances left people serving in expired terms, so clearly there was a need for the new administration to act on these – and quickly.
Rumbo News posted an advertisement for an open position on the Board of Registrars, a board charged with duties and responsibilities related to election and voter registration issues, with a stated deadline of Friday, April 16, 2010. I submited my application accordingly, and received a time/date stamped copy as confirmation of receipt, at my request. I thought this particular board would be a great fit for me, as I have a BA in Political Science, a graduate certificate in Politics and Government, twenty years of volunteer campaign experience AND have been a candidate for elective office myself.
Much to my surprise, when the April 22, 2010 edition of Rumbo News was printed, there was again an advertisement for the open position on the Board of Registrars, with a new deadline of May 7, 2010. I never received an acknowledgement from the Mayor’s office of receipt of my application, nor was I ever interviewed for the position. My contacts have told me I was deemed “not a good fit” for the position. I’m not sure how they came to that decision, as I have never had a conversation with the Mayor or his administration, about my application.
In addition, last Thursday, the city council’s sub-committee on Personnel met to discuss and vote on the Mayor’s recommended applicants being nominated to fill the vacancies or expired terms. There were approximately twenty-nine names sent down to the Personnel sub-committee, and each was asked to speak to the committee, describing their background(s) and interest in serving the City. It became abundantly clear that many of these applicants had not applied for any specific board or commission and when asked, many could not even articulate the role or responsibility of the board he/she was being considered for. Many of these volunteer boards and commissions (the paid ones as well) are guided by very complex statutes and regulations, or have strict standards which must be applied to their decisions. If a board member or commissioner does not fully comprehend what it is he/she is responsible for determining, where will the decisions they make lead this City?
Only time will tell.