Are you interested in serving on a Jersey City municipal board?
Learn how this coming Saturday, April 10, 11 a.m., at a citywide leadership forum, “Call to Service in Jersey City,” taking place at St. Peter’s College on Montgomery Street in Jersey City. The forum is sponsored by the Jersey City group, Civic JC, and the statewide public service organization, Citizen’s Campaign, in co-sponsorship with the St. Peter’s College Sociology and Urban Studies Department and dozens of neighborhood and block associations from across Jersey City.
The forum is similar to one held in November in City Hall that brought out over 150 people.
“One was only left to assume that it was done behind closed doors.” – Dan Levin
The April 10 program will start with a replay of the video of the November workshop at City Hall and will be immediately followed (after a brief coffee break) by a brand-new advanced leadership workshop, starting at noon.
Jersey City has 39 boards – from the Ethical Standards Board to the Zoning Board of Adjustment – and to be considered for a vacant position, one has to fill out an application along with attached cover letter and resume to the City Clerk. Then those applications go to the applicant’s councilperson and Mayor Jerramiah Healy, and one or the other will nominate an applicant to be appointed by the City Council to fill the vacancy.
City Clerk Robert Byrne said as of the end of last week, 27 people since the November meeting have submitted paperwork to his office for an appointment, including those individuals already serving on a board seeking reappointment. Several have been reappointed.
One of those applicants is Carol Lester, a downtown Jersey City resident who applied to be a member of the city’s Environmental Commission. However, the Commission is currently on hiatus.
Lester said last week that she has not heard from the city in writing, by telephone, or by e-mail, even though she was endorsed by the former head of the Environmental Commission, Betty Kearns. She applied in November.
But that has not stopped her desire to do civic service: she is
Getting on board is a process
All municipal boards are not alike. For example, there are what is called “superboards,” created by state statute, such as the boards for the Parking Authority and Incinerator Authority, and there are the boards created by city ordinance, such as the city’s Ethics Board, which meets every third Thursday of each month.
The City Clerk’s office keeps track of the boards and the vacancies, and there are plans to put them on the city’s website. That is the result of City Clerk Robert Byrne’s longtime efforts toward public transparency, and what Byrne said was recent legislation signed by former Gov. Jon Corzine in October called the Citizen Service Act, opening up the appointments process for municipal boards and commissions and making sure there is updated information.
The April 10 meeting is set up to help newcomers who want to know more about getting appointed and serving on boards, and to help those persons who attended the November forum, and afterward applied to serve on a municipal board but were not appointed.
Not as closed
Dan Levin, one of the founders of Civic JC, said that people shouldn’t feel disappointed that the process to get appointed moves slowly.
“Before the previous workshop and the passage of the Citizen Service Act, getting appointed to a board was a much closed process,” Levin said. “One was only left to assume that it was done behind closed doors.”
Levin said the upcoming forum came about because a number of people couldn’t attend in November. He also said Civic JC is reaching out to city officials to appear at the forum to answer questions from attendees and inquiries about the postings of board vacancies on the city’s website. He said he is also hoping they’ll explain why some applicants have not been appointed to boards.
The forum is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending and for more information, RSVP at email@example.com.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.