Tacoma upgrades application process for citizen boards

Applications accepted all year for any board, commission

Staff writerApril 17, 2014 


For the civic-minded among us: no more will you have to fill out application after application on a persistent quest to get on a board or commission with the city of Tacoma.

Tacoma has upgraded its process for seeking candidates for city boards, such as the Board of Ethics, Landmarks Preservation Commission and Library Board of Trustees. Instead of writing or typing out an application on paper and submitting it for a specific board or commission every time there’s an opening, applicants can fill out one catch-all form on the city of Tacoma website.

The new application process was unveiled during a City Council meeting earlier this month, and the changes are aimed at making it easier to participate in city government.

“This really started out as a conversation of the boards and commissions, that they weren’t representing all of the city,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said at the time. Having a simpler application process “makes our city more inclusive.”

Of the members of the 19 boards and commissions, about half lived in north, northeast or west Tacoma — in City Council districts 1 and 2.

Now, if you want to be on a board or commission, you can sign up once and be in the hopper for future openings. Applicants can indicate interest for several boards and commissions at once. In the old system, the applications were discarded at the end of the process, said Councilman Marty Campbell.

The new system has the potential of attracting more people to serve on city boards, said Linnea Meredith, an office assistant in the city clerk’s office. The new process debuted April 1.

“We also wanted to have a pool of applicants available so we have people who are already interested lined up (for future openings),” Meredith said.

The new application also includes a section on race, gender, age and military history. Tracking these variables means the city could reach its goals for equity and empowerment sooner, said Councilman Anders Ibsen. (Equity and empowerment is one of the council’s top five goals for 2014, as explained in a blog post from earlier this year.)

“Many times we would have one or two openings for a board or commission and five excellent candidates,” Campbell said Monday. “I think people everywhere throughout our entire city want to be engaged in government.”

For more information on the process, and to view current board and commission openings, visit the boards and commissions website.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542

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