Stepping up Participation in Local Government

Local Governments want you NOW! Two ways of answering the call to serve Alameda County and/or the Cities of Berkeley and Albany are 1) by volunteering for or being appointed to their non-elected Boards, Commissions and Committees and 2) by attending meetings of elected bodies – e.g., as part of the League of Women Voters’ Observer Corps. Events of recent times call urgently for increased citizen participation in local government so that all voices in our communities are heard in a productive atmosphere countering false narratives.

The huge numbers of non-elected/volunteer boards, commissions and committees advising elected officials are filling up, so if you have expertise or interest in and/or want to offer input on the Arts, Community Health, Public Works, Disabilities, or any one of more than 50 topics (!), now is the time to go to these websites for information on applying, if you are a voter in Berkeley, Albany or Alameda County. Requirements for serving vary so it’s worth looking into the many boards, commissions or committees anxious to have members.

Another way of participating is the longstanding League of Women Voters’ participation at national, state and local levels in the Observer Corps of members who attend meetings of government bodies to learn what their officials are doing so that we may educate and advocate for actions on behalf of our communities more effectively. League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany and Emeryville observers currently attend Berkeley and Albany City Council Meetings, meetings of the Police Review Commission and Homeless Services Panel of Experts of Berkeley and meetings of the Climate Action Committee and the Social and Economic Justice Commission of Albany, as well as public interest presentations by community organizations like UC Berkeley and nonprofits with standing, although meetings of school boards and other bodies are not, but should be covered.

Let’s step up our civic participation by attending these and other public interest meetings, making the most of the ironically positive side to COVID19. Since COVID precludes in-person meetings which now are required to occur by ZOOM or other platforms, travel time to meetings has been eliminated and some recorded meetings can be viewed at more convenient times so that being an observer has become easier!

Now is a good time to answer the call of your local government(s) for the sake of our communities!

Ruby MacDonald, President LWVBAE

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