Monday night will be a first for Minnetrista. For the first time city residents interested in serving on one of the city’s commissions will actually have an opportunity to compete for those seats against incumbents that have already served.
In the past the city council automatically reappointed any commission member that wished to serve another term after their term had expired, without notifying residents of the opportunity to apply for the expiring seat. That all changed during a heated council meeting on December 7 where the practice was exposed and criticized for shutting out resident involvement on the city’s Parks and Planning Commissions.
The reason given for not advertising the openings in the past had been these volunteer positions had been difficult to fill and when someone had served and was willing to continue it was best to hang onto them. Somehow, however, the commission seats were almost always full and when a vacancy occurred it was quickly filled.
The city received 8 applications for the 5 commission assignments: 1 vacant seat and 2 alternate seats for the Parks Commission; and 2 vacant seats for the Planning Commission. Candidates and their applications are listed (starting on page 2) in the council’s work session agenda for Monday night. Applicant names are below (*incumbent):
Andrew Beitler (Parks Commission)
Hal Goldstein (Parks or Planning Commission)
*Sarah Hussain (Parks Commission)
*Robert Rabin (Planning Commission)
Nancy Richeson (Parks Commission)
Paul Stone (Planning Commission)
John Sturgess (Planning Commission)
*Damian Young (Planning Commission)
It will be interesting to see if Monday’s interviews are just a pretense of fairness or if these new applicants actually have a chance at taking an incumbent’s commission seat. There are only 3 incumbents and 5 seats to fill so by default there will be at least two new appointees. I have a feeling at least one of them, Hal Goldstein, will be appointed because he was apparently recruited and applied back in October before there were even any openings. You can read about that here.
There are some impressive resumes from some of these applicants and I hope they are legitimately evaluated for what they have to offer the city. Minnetrista needs commissioners that think for themselves, have a genuine interest in city planning and will do the research and work to make good, reliable recommendations to the council.