What is a commission or board? Commissions and boards are independent bodies made up of citizens who are appointed by public officials. Their roles and responsibilities vary. More than 150 citizens serve on a board or commission for the city of Greenville; more than 300 county residents serve throughout the county boards.
How do you get appointed? Check out the city’s and county’s information online about applying. Names of the current board members, upcoming vacancies and meeting schedules are all public. Just like a job, you need to apply. You will be interviewed. Often the councils look for a diverse set of experts — a residential architect, a pastor, a downtown business owner, a stay-at-home-mom — all bringing a unique perspective.
What are the skills required? It varies. For example, the Board of Accommodations Tax reviews dozens of grant applications and makes a recommendation for use of public funds. These public dollars are critical for the tourism industry, and applicants are appointed for their expertise in hospitality businesses.
Pro tip: Go to a public meeting. Read the agenda prior to the meeting and be knowledgeable about the issues. If an agenda item is regarding land use, visit the address or site. The board may have a lengthy discussion about traffic issues, and having on-the-ground experience is helpful.
How much involvement is required? Some boards have a monthly meeting but may have small workshops in advance. Like everything, you get what you put into it. The Springwood Cemetery Advisory Committee helps direct policy and future plans for the downtown cemetery. With their enthusiasm, the board conceived and presented a new opportunity — a columbarium — to the city parks department.
Is there training? Yes, there is board training. City or county staff will prepare a packet of information prior to the meeting. The chairperson, who is often chosen by the committee itself, chairs the public meetings and keeps the agenda moving. He or she also must entertain public speaking. While some folks are quick to a heated Facebook exchange (I refer to this as keyboard courage), most public meetings have civil discussion.
Did you know? The city of Greenville has a Youth Commission comprised of several dozen high schoolers. You can be either a Greenville resident or attend high school in the city. Good experience for future voters!
“It’s so gratifying that we have a record number of applicants who want to serve their city,” says Greenville Mayor Knox White. “But more are welcomed! Service on a board is still the best (and easiest) way to make a difference.”
P.S: If you do not get appointed, check out the calendar for any upcoming community meetings to be involved. There will be ample public meetings regarding redistricting following once the 2020 Census is formally closed.
More info on boards and commission application processes:
- County of Greenville: https://www.greenvillecounty.org/Council/BoardsComm.aspx
- City of Greenville: https://www.greenvillesc.gov/478/Boards-Commissions
- City of Simpsonville: https://www.simpsonville.com/bc
- City of Greer: https://www.cityofgreer.org/276/Boards-Commissions
- City of Travelers Rest: https://travelersrestsc.com/government/boards-commissions/