A city is only as good as its members and there is strength in numbers. Whatever random adage is applied, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that in order to best serve, someone has to serve.

THE ISSUE: The City of Shawnee has multiple boards made up of volunteers who make decisions for the community as a whole. For awhile now, the city is struggling to keep all its seats filled.

LOCAL IMPACT: City Manager Justin Erickson has put the call out to rally residents to consider serving on various boards to ensure the community has the best representation it can offer.

A city is only as good as its members and there is strength in numbers. Whatever random adage is applied, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that in order to best serve, someone has to serve.

The City of Shawnee has multiple boards made up of volunteers who make many vital decisions for the community as a whole, and this week City Manager Justin Erickson put the call out for help.

For awhile now, the city has been struggling to ensure all those boards are up and running smoothly — by keeping seats filled.

Ward 4 City Commissioner Darren Rutherford brought up the possibility of broadening the scope of who would qualify for the boards.

Some of the boards are identified in the city statute and sometimes those limitations attached — such as the requirement of being residents of the city (to be on the Planning Commission) — can become a hindrance, Erickson said.

“As long as we don't conflict with state law those provisions can be modified,” he said.

Many cities allow those who own a business or property, but may not be a resident in city limits, to serve on a planning board.

“Some of the advisory committees are not codified, so it's just by policy,” Erickson said.

He said he could do more research to look at some options.

Rutherford said even if someone isn't a resident here, but has a viable interest in the community (like a business, etc.), he would be in favor of allowing them to serve.

Ward 5 City Commissioner Lesa Shaw, as well, said board structure is a topic she feels she has worn to the bone in seeking some changes.

Given the recent challenges, it may be a prime time for adjustments to be made.

Erickson said the process to apply for a position isn't difficult.

“In accordance with City Code, all committee members are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the full city commission,” he said.

The city has fairly simply application form to fill out to individuals wanting to serve.

Applications are processed through the city clerk's office.

“There is not a formal interview process,” he said, “although the mayor may reach out as deemed necessary.”

Erickson said application forms are reviewed by the mayor and then sent to the full commission for review.

“Approval at a city commission meeting is the final step,” he said.

Though some do meet monthly, there are boards that meet only once per quarter, once per year or only as needed.

Of the boards with seats currently open, scheduled slots range from early afternoon to early evenings and are generally three-year terms.

Recently, due to common goals and lack of participation, the city's and Greater Shawnee Area's beautification committees merged into one group. Even so, it still desperately needs volunteers.

“The new ordinance provides for a committee with 11 members,” Erickson said. Out of those, nine are vacant (eight citizen seats and one commissioner seat).

Currently, there alos are openings on the Planning Commission (2), the Shawnee Housing Authority (1), the Community Service Contract Review (1), Traffic (1) and the Beautification Committee (8).

For a full list of committees or an application, visit the city's website, at shawneeok.org/gov/Boards.

For more information, call (405) 878-1601.