It takes dedication, time, the desire to serve and a thick skin be a public official – whether it be on the city council, school board or a number of volunteer citizen committees that keep the community running.
Just like driving, it’s easy to sit in the back seat –at a keyboard – and advise those behind the wheel. It’s entirely different when you’re the one driving and making decisions.
Those who serve the public on governing boards most often do so with little – or no – pay. It’s like being a volunteer, except rather than toiling behind the scenes, you’re right out front, often on a dais and always in public view.
While accolades are few; criticism is common.
With any job – and stepping forward to serve in official capacity is certainly a job – there are expectations.
Attendance is definitely a priority.
Meetings are scheduled well in advance; in fact, except for holidays the day rarely differs. This allows those who serve on the boards, as well as those residents who wish to attend, adequate notice.
Agendas are also published in advance. In recent years, strides have been made and agendas, minutes and expenditures are published online in advance of the meeting for public review.
When meetings are cancelled due to poor attendance – which has happened several times recently with both the Gardner City Council and Utility Advisory Council – the public’s business suffers.
On the June 6 council agenda, several items will be pushed back to the June 20 meeting, including accepting sanitary and sewer utility easements to extend utilities for the Gardner Edgerton Advanced Technical Center.
This could have a negative impact on the construction schedule for USD 231.
Volunteering for public service – making the conscious decision to take time away from family, job and leisure to serve on a government board – is a noble commitment.
And once that commitment is made, it’s important to honor it.