Boards and Commissions Need Republicans

Board_Meeting_Conversations_conference-g1b0a4f566_640.jpgCity, county and state Boards and Commissions in MN rely on volunteers for expertise and community input / viewpoints. The experience of serving on these boards and commissions can be rewarding. It also gives future candidates for public office the ability to cite their background of government service.

A November 5 Op-Ed in the Sun Current described the importance of 254 state boards, commissions, work groups and task forces, that involve more than 3600 state residents. It mentioned the 1978 Minnesota Open Appointments Act and quoted Secretary of State Steve Simon as encouraging more members of diverse communities to apply: “We need everyone at the table.”

Unfortunately, true diversity on the boards and commissions in the metropolitan area is not always achieved. Those who apply are reviewed / screened / appointed by current elected office-holders and their administrative appointees – mayor, appointed city managers, city councils, Secretary of State, Governor, current commission chairs – who are, for the most part, Democrats. Even for roles that are theoretically non-partisan, the resulting Boards and Commissions are skewed to Democrat members.

Further, since the DFL definition of “diverse communities” involves “skin color” and “sexual orientation” rather than “underlying core approach to government”, this supposed outreach to all fails to result in true diversity of viewpoint. Reports issued by the Boards/Commissions about their deliberations and actions can leave the misleading impression that their policy decisions are approved (or opposed) by almost all Minnesotans.

How do we change the balance? By:
1) applying in large enough numbers that failure to appoint Conservatives/Republicans becomes obvious;
2) voicing our views when seated on a Board or Commission, even though in the minority;
3) contacting the members to express our views on items they’re discussing; and
4) attending the meetings, noting/reporting the proceedings.

Current state openings are listed at the Secretary of State website which also has more detailed information about the application and appointment process.

If you’ve applied / served on a Board/Commission and are willing to coach future applicants on the process, please let us know by emailing [email protected]

Bloomington’s November 2021 “City Briefing” publication that’s mailed to every household included the invitation for residents to apply to join a city advisory board or commission. There are 13 current openings across six of them*, with terms starting in March. Applications are due December 22 for:
- Advisory Board of Health
- Creative Placemaking Commission
- Human Rights Commission
- Park, Arts and Recreation Commission
- Sustainability Commission
- Local Board of Appeal and Equalization/Board of Review *   (* from updated list 11/18)

See the city’s website for more information about the roles and instructions on how to apply.

Edina’s website indicates that their Boards/Commissions application process will open in December and close in January for terms that begin in March. Residents are encouraged to gather information now to identify areas of interest, learn about the volunteer process and subscribe to receive notification when the openings are published.

Minnetonka’s website states that the application period is now closed, and provides a contact name for more information. Residents are encouraged to consider which future openings may be a match, and prepare to apply during the next round.

Eden Prairie’s website lists a contact name for more information about their Boards and Commissions, which are appointed by the city council. It does not indicate timing of the application/appointment process. Terms begin in April and are for 3 years. Residents are encouraged to consider which future openings may be a match, and call the city to understand what’s needed to apply during the next round.