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In Wichita, civic boards and commissions have a litany of powers.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission — considered the most powerful advisory board in the city — can recommend whether a residential block can be turned into a parking lot.
The Board of Park Commissioners can recommend that the city acquire new land for a park.
And the Wichita Citizens Review Board can review the disciplinary findings for Wichita police officers facing misconduct claims.
Why not join? Over 100 appointments are expiring in the first three months of 2022 — so the time is ripe. Here’s a guide on how to get involved with Wichita’s boards, commissions and committees.
How are Wichita city board and commission members chosen?
The majority of board and commission members are chosen by City Council members, the mayor or the city manager.
They find board and commission members in two ways: Inviting residents whom they consider a good fit to apply, or finding them through the public application portal.
If you submit an application through the portal, it’s forwarded to the mayor, city manager or relevant council member. They may decide to interview applicants before appointing them.
Some boards require specific areas of expertise — for example, the Animal Control Advisory Board must include a veterinarian.
Some boards also include appointments from other entities, such as Sedgwick County or the Regional Economic Area Partnership of South Central Kansas.
Why should I apply for a Wichita city board position?
Being on a board or commission can be a powerful tool for having your voice heard. Depending on the board, you can help make policy recommendations to the City Council, hold public hearings and create strategic plans for Wichita.
Serving on boards is also an opportunity to diversify the voices shaping Wichita’s government. The city recently partnered with United WE’s Appointments Project in an attempt to increase the number of women, especially women of color, serving on civic boards and commissions.
Where can I apply to a Wichita city board or commission?
The application requires a resume, an overview of why you’re interested in serving and a summary of the skills you bring to the table.
If you’re a woman interested in serving, you can register with United WE’s Appointments Project, which will connect you with vacancies that match your skill set.
What’s expected of me if I join a Wichita board?
Appointments are typically for two years, said Janet Johnson, an assistant to Mayor Brandon Whipple who deals with boards and commissions. Some exceptions include District Advisory Boards, which consist of residents from each City Council district. Those appointments are for one year.
Meetings typically take place about once a month, sometimes more. Board members are removed if they miss three meetings in a row or half of the meetings over the course of the year. But Whipple emphasized that it’s OK if an appointee gets busy and has to resign.
“It’s an appointment, not a marriage,” Whipple said. “If you find out once you’re appointed that you can’t continue, just let us know and we’ll reappoint someone else.”
Some board members must also undergo background checks, including those on the Citizens Review Board and the Diversity, Inclusion & Civil Rights Advisory Board.
What disqualifies me from serving?
Board members can’t live outside the city of Wichita, with the exception of some technical boards like the Board of Electrical Appeals.
Board members also can’t, for the most part, be employed full-time by the city or be an immediate family member of someone on the City Council. The maximum time a board member can serve is eight years.
Residents also cannot serve on multiple boards, unless one of them is a District Advisory Board.
Who handles applications for Wichita boards and commissions?
The City Council office oversees board and commission applications.
How long does it take to fill vacancies?
Johnson said there is no limit on how long a seat can sit empty. Even if someone’s appointment expires, they can continue serving until someone new has been appointed, she added.
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