Naperville mayor reviews new city boards and commissions guide

Naperville mayor Scott Wehrli addressing group about boards and commissions
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Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli along with the League of Women Voters of Naperville (LWVN) held an information session on Wednesday about the role of the city boards and commissions.

They touched on the new guidelines  for applying to boards and commissions as well as their importance to the city.

Updated guidelines for the process

The LWVN  had conducted a 10-month study on the city’s appointment process, coming up with six different recommendations to increase transparency. In late June, Mayor Wehrli released updated guidelines for that process.

The new guide addresses key takeaways from the study, clarifying commitment levels and other responsibilities before volunteers apply for a role.

“Making our expectations very clear and upfront, making the job descriptions very clearly defined, really establishes the groundwork for people to have a good understanding of what it takes to become a good applicant for a board or commission,” said Wehrli.

Specific requirements for volunteers like commitment to public service, active participation in meetings, and being an incorporated Naperville resident, are also included in the guidelines.

As for the application process, applicants can apply for up to three boards and they can finish their application within 15 days of starting. It will stay on file for 18 months and then become archived. Applicants will be notified if that happens.

Importance of guidelines for boards and commissions

Wehrli touched on the importance of these guidelines for the Naperville community.

“The process is important to our city because boards and commissions contribute so much and when we’re elected officials and we’re charged with making decisions based on everything that’s going to affect and benefit our residents, we need that specific expertise and input from those boards to give us guidance and advice,” said Wehrli.

League of Women Voters of Naperville President Susan Craighead said that having transparency in appointing those decision-makers was key.

“An open and transparent process protects our democracy by allowing informed and active participation in all citizens in municipal government,” said Craighead.

Student representatives on the boards and commissions

Some spots on city boards and commissions are slotted for high school students, who are held to the same standard as other volunteers.

Naperville resident high school students can apply, with priority going to higher-class students.

The application process for student representatives is different from the regular process as it does not roll over. A press release from the city will be sent out with more information in the coming weeks.

“This is a first real-life thing for a lot of these high school-age kids,” said Wehrli. “You’re applying for a board just like you would be an adult applying for a board.”

Diversity on the boards and commissions

During the Q&A section of the meeting, some questions about diversity and representation on the boards and commission were asked.

Wehrli did not have all the exact figures on hand, but said the Asian American Pacific Islander community had a boards and commissions representation of 16%, noting that group’s portion of the population in Naperville is about 21%.

He also noted that the boards and commissions are light on Latino representatives, and that there is an imbalance in gender with more men than women.

“We’re going to really do our best to try to make sure we’re addressing concerns about the demographics and the geography on these boards,” said Wehrli. “Hopefully, we’ll have improvements and find really good applicants that will help us on all of those.”

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