Mayor Kim Driscoll has drafted a city ordinance that would require the mayor to reappoint or replace committee members within 180 days of their term’s expiration.
Members of the city’s various boards and committees often continue to serve long after their terms expire — sometimes one or more years. It’s a long-standing issue that has happened through numerous mayors.
Driscoll submitted her ordinance to the council this week; they voted to send it to committee for discussion.
As written, Driscoll’s ordinance would require any board or committee member not reappointed within 180 days to leave his or her post.
“We all wish to see our system of municipal boards strengthened,” Driscoll wrote in a June 27 letter to councilors. “... (Board members) and the residents of our city deserve to have as transparent, functional and balanced a board system as we can create.”
In Salem, the mayor selects and recommends residents for appointment to nonelected boards and committees. The City Council votes to give final approval of each appointment.
The city has more than 30 boards, from the Bike Path Committee to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Ward 6 Councilor Paul Prevey began focusing on Salem’s problem with not-so-timely board reappointments this spring after he noticed a majority of Salem boards and committees were operating with members whose terms had expired.
Driscoll submitted a list of 60 appointments and reappointments for council approval in early April, after her staff spent the winter and spring making a list of expired board members and contacting them to see if they would like to be reappointed.
At Thursday’s council meeting, Prevey said his initial impression of Driscoll’s ordinance was favorable, but he’ll have a few more questions as it’s discussed in committee.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.