Radford officials say they need more people involved in local government.

The city has 22 openings for its boards and commissions, according to its website. A dozen groups have vacant positions to be filled. Appointments range from one to five years in duration.

City Manager David Ridpath wrote in an email that the open positions play a vital role in aiding the city’s decision-making processes.

“Having our citizens serve on city boards and commissions helps us significantly by providing different perspectives on a variety of interests from recreation and beautification to planning and economic development. In many cases, volunteers have an expertise in the mission of the organization. The boards and commissions also provide the members exposure to local government,” he wrote.

City spokeswoman Jenni Wilder said the unusually high number of vacancies isn’t necessarily due to a lack of civic pride, but rather how term limits fell this year.

Wilder said the city hasn’t had trouble filling positions in the past, and current terms are filled until the end of July.

Wilder said when terms end, city council is tasked with filling the roles at its July meeting. City boards and commissions are often the first to hear about a variety of issues on which the council will often vote.

For example, the planning commission is the first to hear matters about properties that are zoned for single-family residences to apartment complexes or mixed-use developments.

However, lesser-known groups like the recreation commission often work on more obscure projects.

“The recreation commission advises the city council but they also make policy and help govern the parks and recreation department. One of their most recent things is the murals that are going to be painted in Wildwood Park on the bridge covering up the graffiti,” Wilder said.

Mayor David Horton — who serves as the council representative on the beautification commission — said while there are 22 positions to fill, those whose terms are running out may want to continue serving. He said he hopes to see some new faces on the boards and commissions.

“We’re interested in people that want to be involved in their local government particularly those that are interested in a certain department,” Horton said.

Horton said that in addition to reading the cover letters and resumes citizens send in to apply for the seats, council will also be talking to agency heads to see who has been attending meetings throughout the year and what qualifications they are looking for in potential candidates.

“I’m interested in getting as many people as possible — people interested in being involved but also people who have relevant experience, education if possible. Anything really that may help them have greater insight to, say, parks and recreation or beautification or planning, things along that line,” he said.

Wilder said that not many people have expressed interest since advertising the openings, but Horton believes that will change as word gets out. He also said officials may reach out to qualified individuals who would be a good fit.

Currently the deadline to apply is June 28 but Wilder said the deadline will be pushed back if needed.

She said there is no specific minimum age to serve but there may be other requirements, like the library board filling its teen representative position.

“Our boards and commissions are established by code and their operating and advisory boards. The boards themselves also have specific bylaws governing the operation of their board/commission,” she wrote in an email.

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Sam Wall covers Pulaski, Radford and Radford University.

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