While elections might not be for everyone, that doesn’t mean citizens can’t have a direct impact on city government and its policies. By joining any of the city’s 17 boards and commissions, residents can make decisions that direct the way Laramie handles its traffic, parks, zoning and more — without the hassle of winning an election for City Council.
During the Dec. 11 Laramie City Council work session, City Manager Janine Jordan said the holiday season is a difficult time to recruit potential members for the different boards and commissions.
“We have a whole host of openings right now,” Jordan said at the meeting. “Building and Fire Code Board of Appeals, the Civil Service Commission, Airport Board and the Planning Commission all have current openings.”
The boards and commissions cover a variety of topics, from downtown development to traffic flow within the city. Ryan Shoefelt, deputy city clerk, said the variety of people and topics helps the city get new perspectives on issues from residents who might even be experts in that field.
“It’s all community-driven — most of the community members are volunteering their time,” Shoefelt said. “I think it is a valuable resource that you have these continued different views and different people that can share different opinions.”
The term length and meeting frequency for each board and commission varies depending on their responsibilities, said Shoefelt.
“The Planning Commission meets at least twice a month for their meetings, but some boards only meet once every quarter,” Shoefelt said.
Some of the boards and commissions accept applications continuously, like the Environmental Advisory Committee and the Board of Health. Others — including the Albany County Tourism Joint Powers Board — are joint boards, where members from both the Laramie City Council and the Albany County Commissioners are involved to collaborate.
Applications can be found on the city clerk’s page of the city’s website, and Shoefelt said the city is starting interviews for some boards after the holiday season. Members of the Laramie City Council interview and appoint members to the boards.
Mayor Andi Summerville said “99.99 percent of the time” the City Council follows the board’s recommendations on policy points. She added the boards and commissions take the time to go through “finite details” to help the Council make decisions on complex issues, like traffic or zoning.
“It helps manage the council’s workload and the city’s workload,” Summerville said, “but even more so it’s incredibly important to keep citizens and residents involved in those boards and commissions, to keep them active and participating in their local government. It’s dangerous when people don’t participate, and they don’t care.”
Application instructions and more information about the meeting schedules, responsibilities and term lengths for each board and commission can be found by going to www.cityoflaramie.org/873/Boards-Commissions.