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County to start new process for managing boards and commissions, filling vacancies


Vacancies on Washoe County’s boards and commissions and the manner in which they are filled was cause for concern from Commissioner Mike Clark earlier this year.

At the Feb. 21 Board of County Commissioners meeting Clark successfully headed off an agenda item that would have approved new members of the Senior Services Advisory Board after suggesting that proper noticing for the vacancies hadn’t been completed.

Commissioners on Tuesday heard more about the process to fill vacancies on the county’s boards and commissions and updates to the process.

Some of the many designated boards and commissions include the Board of Adjustment, Community Homelessness Advisory Board, Parcel Map Review Committee and Regional Street Naming Committee. There are also a number of community advisory boards.

Commissioner Mike Clark

In February, Clark had expressed concerns about the appointment process. 

“We need to announce these board openings in a broader way in the future,” Clark said. “First of all, very few people volunteer for these positions, and when we finally get somebody to step up…and volunteer…then we’ve got somebody on the board who wants to make partisan politics out of this.”

County spokesperson Bethany Drysdale following that meeting said that wasn’t the case with the Senior Services Advisory Board appointment process, nor for many others. 

“The Senior Services Advisory Board opening has been listed on the [county] website indefinitely, to allow individuals to apply at any time, regardless of vacancies,” Drysdale said. “There are no set rules/policies that apply to all boards for noticing or filing.” 

Most vacancies for boards and commissions were posted on the county’s website and promoted through emails and social media. 

“We try to be careful of spamming the community, as we have over 50 boards and committees listed on our website and only send to people who have opted in to our lists,” Drysdale said.

She added that the Commissioner support team was already at work setting new standards and processes for boards and commissions. 

Alexandra Wilson, with the team, presented the updated details Tuesday.

Wilson said the plan to review boards and commissions came from commissioners nearly a year ago. An initial review found that the information available about each group was scattered across the county’s website, some was outdated and much of it wasn’t consistent. 

The plan Wilson presented would include county liaisons for each board and committee to provide expertise on processes and a centralized system of tracking meeting dates, attendance and membership rosters. 

Wilson reviewed the online meeting system, Granicus, for commissioners. The program includes data such as how many board vacancies there are and when member terms expire, as well as tools to submit applications to certain boards.  

Each vacancy would open for applications for a minimum three weeks and a list of communications tools would be used to promote the vacancies. 

Once applications are in, the county will have a new interview process for each applicant with more interaction from members of the Board of County Commissioners. 

Wilson said one of the goals of creating more structure and tracking for the boards and commissions is to see which ones are effective.

Clark said he appreciated the detail of Wilson’s presentation. 

“You covered a lot of areas, some areas that I had in my notes to ask you about and you preempted me, so congratulations,” Clark said.

Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience working in marketing, public relations and communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. She also serves as director of communications for Nevada Cancer Coalition, a statewide nonprofit. Though she now lives in Atlanta, she is a Nevadan for life and uses her three-hour time advantage to get a jump on the morning’s news.