Vacancies persist on Rowan County citizen boards

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Citizen advisory board vacancies in Rowan County government will soon total more than five dozen.

As of Friday, upcoming and current vacancies to be considered by Rowan County Commissioners numbered 63 — a large portion are volunteer fire department commissioners. County commissioners also considered a large number of board appointments to fill vacancies in December, shortly after taking office. The current or upcoming vacancies include positions on the Airport Advisory Board, Planning Board, Board of Public Health and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Board of Trustees.

By far, however, the largest number of vacancies — 10 — exists on Adult Care Home Advisory Committee. The committee’s 10 vacancies has persisted for several months now, dating back before December 2014, when the three newest commissioners took office. North Carolina law states the advisory committee’s responsibilities are to maintain the Adult Care Home Residents’ Bill of Rights and “promote community involvement and cooperation with adult care homes to ensure quality care for the elderly and disabled adults.”

Vacancies most commonly result from a member’s term expiring without a replacement applicant or a resignation for personal reasons. County commissioners have rarely not approved an appointment when the number of vacancies exceeds applications submitted for a particular board.

Commissioner Mike Caskey said the vacancies are likely a product of normal turnover. He said June and December usually contain the greatest number of vacancies for citizen boards. Caskey said citizen boards allow issues to be studied more in-depth than commissioners might be able to do alone.

Members of citizen boards frequently run for elected positions. In fact, a majority of county commissioners have served on a citizen board before running for office. Caskey, for example, served on the Rowan County Planning Board before running for the Salisbury-Rowan Board of Education. Commission Chairman Greg Edds served on the Airport Advisory Board. Commissioner Craig Pierce served on the Planning Board and Airport Advisory Board. Commissioner Jim Greene previously served on the Economic Development Commission.

Edds said, however, citizen boards could be valuable in professional life.

“The boards are ground zero for a lot of the initial information gathering and decision making processes,” Edds said. “There’s a tremendous value to the individual, a value to the community and great value to those who are entrusted with the ultimate decision. There’s often complaints that government doesn’t work or that it doesn’t for for the people. Well, here’s a great opportunity for citizens up and down the political spectrum to get involved in the decision-making process.”

A full list of vacancies is on Rowan County government’s website. Additional information on applications may be obtained by contacting the Rowan County Manager’s Office at 704-216-8180.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.