Daily activities can consume our time. There are truly not enough hours in one day – even though we all get 24.
Whether it’s going to work, going to school or caring for aging relatives, time is precious. It can also be scarce.
With this in mind, it is important to consider the hundreds of people who find or make the time to volunteer with their local church, a child’s school or favorite charitable organization.
However, when it comes time to fill a seat on city boards and commissions or even the city council, few, if any, step up. Why?
These are the very boards and commissions that help shape a community and – more importantly – make recommendations to policy makers.
These are the very groups that help determine if a road will go north or south or east or west, if a variance for a setback will be granted or if equipment in a neighborhood park will be replaced. Why not participate beyond the public hearing?
Sometimes at that point, a decision can already be made or a vote is already slated to be considered by the city council at an upcoming meeting that you might not be able to attend. Use your voice not only to praise or complain about city government but to participate in and contribute to it, if possible.
Boards and commissions in the City of St. Joseph include the city council, the planning commission, the park board, the fire board, the economic development authority and the regional human rights commission. More information can be found on the city’s website: www.cityofstjoseph.com.
St. Joseph has two city members on the human right’s regional joint powers board. They are City Council members Renee Symanietz and Steve Frank. The board helps oversee the human rights commission.
The joint powers agreement for the board was recently updated in an effort to attract more members to the commission. Rather than have a certain number of males or females, language was revised to state the commission will consist of eight members and five of the eight members must be persons residing within member cities. Since the commission’s inception, efforts have been made to attract more members from St. Joseph. Despite low results, residents do see value in the services of the Human Rights Commission.
Richard Cousin, enforcement officer for the St. Cloud Regional Human Rights Office, told members of the St. Joseph City Council March 1 there are 37 open human-rights cases in St. Joseph. About 27 percent of them are age-related, 13 percent are related to disability and 60 percent are related to sex.
Residents reap the benefits of the commission’s existence but don’t help support outreach or other efforts. This is just one example of a commission that has been actively trying to recruit membership from St. Joseph. There are others. Step up, St. Joseph residents.