Citizens who want to do more than just vote now have a chance to volunteer for positions at Santa Barbara County’s Park Commission, Civil Service Commission or Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.
Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall – who will ultimately appoint each volunteer – created the positions to allow citizens to make important decisions and advise the Board of Supervisors on policy issues pertaining to the county. The volunteer terms vary from one to two years. If volunteers are successful, they can be re-appointed for additional terms.
County Park Director Jennifer Briggs said anyone with a genuine interest or experience in county parks is encouraged to apply for one of the positions working for the Park Commission.
A volunteer for the Park Commission must attend a four to five hour meeting every fourth Thursday of the month to discuss park development and improvements, and answer public concerns. The volunteers are paid $50 a month and compensated for mileage.
“There are so many issues that the board deals with and the commissions focus on specific matters, and that helps achieve a greater degree of public service and public access to the board and their elected representatives,” Briggs said.
Elizabeth Martinez, Marshall’s administrative assistant, said working with the Housing, Civil Service or Parks Commission allows people to get involved in making important decisions that affect their communities.
“The volunteers represent the people in their community, and they should get involved and voice their concerns for the people living around them,” she said.
Martinez said volunteers for the Civil Service Commission would attend hearings for county employees who feel they have been treated unfairly. The volunteers would also help develop regulations to help protect personnel from being mistreated.
Martinez said Housing Authority Board of Commissioners volunteers aid in planning for affordable housing projects in the county or determine whether they should purchase open land in order to build new housing projects.
Marshall said volunteering is a very effective way of getting involved and achieving positive changes that may need to be made.
“It is important that citizens get involved and represent their areas because the work performed by their commissions provides valuable input that is critical to our quality of life,” she said.