Blogs | Marcia Green

The Back Story: Volunteer for a town board

Every now and then, Cumberland Town Clerk Sandra Giovanelli asks me to post an opening on one of the town boards or commissions that will be filled by the Town Council.

There are really two kinds of openings on local boards and if you're interested in volunteering your time to the town, you need to read between the lines to understand what's being offered. While the town announces all upcoming appointments, the truth is that if the member whose term is expiring wants to keep on serving, the Town Council is very unlikely to replace him or her. Getting on a board is pretty much an automatic pass to serve as long as you wish.

But every now and then someone does step aside creating a real opening. If the announcement notes the opening is due to a vacancy, as does this week's opening on the Cumberland Public Library's board of trustees, then someone new will be appointed.

And sometimes there's some lively competition for the opening.

Want to improve your chances of getting appointed by the Town Council? I wouldn't hesitate to contact the seven councilors personally with a note about your qualifications. But most importantly, show up at the meeting when the appointment is on the agenda. President Jim Higgins always asks if the contenders are there. It's pretty hard for them to skip over the eager citizen who stands to say hello and choose someone who didn't care enough to come.

The position on the library board can be interesting. A bit like the School Committee, the library board has a semi-autonomous role in Cumberland that permits it to make spending and personnel decisions apart from Town Hall. And with technology advancing as rapidly as it is, you'll be helping this favorite institution in town take some pretty forward-thinking action.

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