The Select Board last week discussed a report from the Volunteer Coordinating Committee (VCC) on how to find town new candidates for appointed town committees.
The VCC works to find and screen candidates for town committees, giving recommendations to the Select Board for interview and appointment.
Joe Piantedosi, VCC chair, pointed out that, due to Covid-19, the usual push to fill vacancies after the Select Board reappoints committee members in the summer did not happen, and since then it has been difficult to find possible candidates for committees.
However, he made it clear that the VCC’s work has been yielding results and that they felt very confident in all the strategies laid out in their report.
Emily Mitchell of the Select Board noted that many of the VCC’s strategies focus on increasing the spread of information. She pointed out that, while more information can be sent out, specific people are not targeted as possible candidates for town committees.
Mitchell said these target groups of candidates are not commonly represented in town committees, whether it be age, ethnicity, or where they live in town.
Her colleague Bopha Malone raised the possibility of having current members of town committees create videos about what they do and share these videos in a larger space, perhaps on social media.
She also noted that educating high school students on municipal government could be an effective strategy to not only get those students involved but also their parents.
VCC member Jen Kelley noted that school outreach would be relatively simple to accomplish in the short term. She also mentioned that many of the outreach possibilities that are usually employed with students are very limited due to the current inability to host in-person events.
Select Board Chair Ed Pierce pointed out that the eighth-grade curriculum has a civics course that could be made to include town government. Piantedosi noted that there have been teachers at the high school who included town government as part of their course.
Pierce emphasized the importance of having specific, comprehensive metrics on the vacancies that VCC is hoping to fill. Long term openings on certain committees, for example, could signify that the committee is not meeting the town’s needs.
Asked by Select Board member Bill Moonan which proposed avenues for outreach did the VCC think would work best. Kelley said many of the strategies laid out in the plan are built on practices that are already in place, just not formalized.
She later stressed the importance of contacting not only people on committees to see what members they would need, but also committee members who would know others in town that would be interested in town government.