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At the Enterprise City Council work sessions March 16 and 18, the council reached a consensus that a restructured appointment process would include re-aligning all the board appointments to occur at the same time each year.
All the board terms would start at the same time under the proposed restructure, said Enterprise City Council President Turner Townsend.
“What I am proposing—and I think this is going to take some work—is going to have to be done in conjunction and cooperation with our boards,” Townsend said. “The board of education position starts June 1. The rest of the boards could start on July 1. We’ll have to extend some board terms in order to align.
“The general idea is that we have five districts across the city, five elected councilmembers and the mayor who is over the entire city” Townsend said. “Each board represents the elected officials, which in turn should represent the city on a demographic and geographic level.”
Under the proposed restructure the council would devote at least one work session to discuss the board appointments due to expire that year. “I would prefer us to intensely focus on the appointment, produce a slate of candidates that we can form a consensus around, communicate that process of how we came to create that slate to the public so they understand—and vote on it,” Townsend said.
“We have approximately 44 appointments over our term across all the boards. Four of those appointments are the mayor’s appointments and they are not on this list because the mayor makes them. Also not on the list is the Healthcare Authority appointment which is handled slightly differently. The Healthcare Authority sends us their nomination and we simply vote it up or down—we don’t have to find any candidates for that.
“What this proposal would accomplish is to at least give each council member the opportunity, and the responsibility, to come up with a candidate on at rotating basis for each board so that after our term we can say our constituents have had a voice on each of the boards,” he added. “I don’t think we can say that with confidence about our prior process.
“We’ve got to get a consensus (before making appointments) and I think this gives us a process to do that with. The mayor will be involved,” Townsend said. “I think this will be a much more open process.
“I suspect over the years (the board appointment process) has gotten out of control. When somebody resigned, somebody was appointed to fill that seat and they were given a full term instead of being appointed to fill the unexpired term. Or if somebody was delayed in reappointment, they were given a reappointment to a full term instead of what remained of that current term.
“There is a heightened amount of interest in our board of education position,” Townsend said at the March 16 work session. “We have a vacancy that we were planning on filling tonight but I have taken that off of the agenda so we can include that vacancy in our broader board appointment process.”
Townsend also proposed giving each position on boards a specific seat.
“I feel strongly that this will give the citizens a much better confidence in the process,” he added. “We’ve got to get this right.”
“I’d much rather do it this way,” said Enterprise City Councilwoman Sonya Rich. “Just like we prepare for a budget every year, we would prepare for board appointments.”
The council may not vote on issues at work sessions. Votes are called for during the regularly scheduled voting meetings on the first and third Tuesdays of each month.
The next meeting of the Enterprise City Council is Tuesday, April 6, at the Enterprise City Hall Council Chambers. A work session begins at 5 p.m. A voting meeting begins at 6 p.m. Both meetings are open to the public.