GREEN COVE SPRINGS – After postponing a discussion on term limits for elected county officials, members of the Charter Review Commission discussed internal issues with the way their board is …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – After postponing a discussion on term limits for elected county officials, members of the Charter Review Commission discussed internal issues with the way their board is selected.
Chair Amy Pope-Wells brought up the issue, which was that they had become aware that four members of the 15-person board were appointed by members of the Board of County Commissioners who do not live in the same district. Pope-Wells questioned whether or not this affected the spread of interests throughout the county, where the original task was for each commissioner to select three CRC representatives from their own district.
“We pushed back and said we need you to do your job and pick your three people from your district only,” Pope-Wells said. “Nothing in [the] document requires this, it just says three from each district.”
Because it is not a requirement that the three representatives be from the commissioners’ own districts, but more of a suggestion, Pope-Wells was met with indifference among her colleagues. They explained that the board has seen significant falloff, with members absent at almost every meeting, so their goal is not to select people from their own districts, but more to nail down anyone who is willing to give their time and actually attend the monthly meetings.
Pope-Wells said the commission wouldn’t entertain any changes to the selection process on their end, but would consider shrinking the size of the board’s membership. Due again to the fact that members are frequently absent, the Charter Review Commission members seemed to think the number should stay where it is, especially with the requirement that eight members be present to be considered a quorum.
“I think we need 15 because every meeting I come to people are absent,” said CRC member Ronnie Coleman. “We had nine one time, so you need a balance at 15 to have enough to have a quorum. We have to have enough for a quorum or we can’t do anything.”
Other Charter Review members spoke to a similar point, stating that they do not have a problem with the selection process or the number of members as long as they have the attendance to actually continue holding the meetings. Wade Vose, the attorney who works for the CRC, added that there is no requirement for the commissioners to select members from their own district, though it had been talked about in other instances where appointments had been made outside the commissioner’s district. Vose said that no action had ever been taken to change what seems like a common practice when commissioners have trouble filling spots on the committee.
“I happen to believe that they do the best that they can to select within their districts, and I wasn’t selected by my commissioner,” said commission member Larry Kirkman. “I agree in principle that we should have a sincere effort to have equal representation, but the way it’s written satisfies that requirement. I think the matter is settled.”
Though most members seemed to agree, there was some contention from the 12 people present, including that of former County Commissioner Ronald Stottler.
“If I’m going to address whether or not this board we’re on is properly appointed I’m going to address it at the ballot box when the county commissioners run, because there is absolutely no excuse not to be able to find three people out of 20,000,” Stottler said. “I still can’t imagine how a county commissioner who’s really interested in his job could not find three people, I think that a lot of people would be honored to do it. On so many of these boards lately, half of the members never had a clue about how county government runs.”
No action was taken on an attempt to change the appointment process, and the committee agreed that there was little need to take any future action on the issue at their meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for March 19 at 7 p.m. where CRC members will continue discussions on term limits for constitutional officers and elected county officials.