Submitted by City of Lacey
When Washington state was a fledgling addition to the Union, the Progressive Movement championed the slogan “Give the government back to the people.”
Over 130 years later, tenets of this idea are still firmly fixed in all levels of government in Washington. At the local level, this concept serves as a crucial keystone for many municipalities, like the City of Lacey.
Even so, many jurisdictions across the state struggle to get enough community voices to serve as Advisory Board members – a vital role for governments of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Advisory boards serve as one of the public’s first opportunities to help shape new City policies, programs, and services. At the City of Lacey, our advisory boards are the true heartbeat of the community. They offer recommendations, strategic direction, and innovative ideas to the Lacey City Council on matters that impact the community now, and in the future. This includes topics on land use, zoning, social services, parks, library services, historical matters, and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, to name a few.
If you are looking for a way to make a meaningful impact on the present and future of Lacey, serving on an advisory board is a great way to do so.
But don’t just take it from us … hear it from the people. Here’s what a few current advisory board members have to say about serving in this role.
Wendy Goodwin, Parks, Culture, and Recreation Board
“Community members should always feel welcome to make a difference with their experiences, by sharing what matters to them, their families, friends, co-workers, and neighbors,” states Lacey Parks, Culture, and Recreation (PCR) Commission Chair Wendy Goodwin.
Goodwin has served on the PCR for two years. During this time, she’s had the opportunity to work on the 2023-2029 Parks, Culture & Recreation Comprehensive Plan, Greg Cuoio Park Master Plan, Sponsorship Policy, Financial Aid Program, and more.
Kyrian Mac Michael, Planning Commission
“Advisory Boards are imperative to the effective and ethical running of a city,” said Planning Commissioner Kyrian MacMichael. “They work to ensure that people who have historically been marginalized are represented and protected, the everyday person has a voice on par with business interests, and the voice of our community is carried to those in power to bring about positive change.”
MacMichael has served on the Planning Commission for three years and has had the opportunity to weigh in on housing and homelessness issues, the Urban Forestry Plan update, climate initiatives, parking regulations, Neighborhood Commercial Districts, and the joint plan update with Thurston County.
Clifford Brown, Commission on Equity
“I thought an advisory board was a group of community members that existed to rubber stamp the City Council’s agenda,” said Commission on Equity Chair Cliff Brown. “I later discovered that advisory boards actually work closely with the City Council. The Council truly considers and approves many recommendations from advisory boards.”
Brown has served on the Commission on Equity since its inception in 2021. Since then, the Commission has reviewed and weighed in on the draft Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan, Advisory Board Stipend Program (more on this below), Flag Policy, Corporate Policy, Land Acknowledgement Policy, and held numerous community forums.
Interested? Here’s How To Get Involved
Advisory board members engage in meaningful discussions that encourage fresh ideas and collaboration, and directly influence decisions. “It is imperative that people from diverse backgrounds, who are committed to learning about all sides of the issues brought before the City Council, be provided a pathway to serve as advocates for those whose voices might otherwise not be heard,” shared MacMichael. The City encourages anyone who has an interest to apply for an advisory board. Note: A few advisory board positions may have additional criteria to serve, e.g.,where you live, education, professional expertise, etc.
Are you interested in getting involved in one of these areas, but not sure you’re ready? It’s a common feeling, but remember, you’re an expert in your community and City staff and peers are there to help provide context and applicable information!
“You’re not required to know everything. Learning and listening is just the beginning of an advisory board journey,” shares Goodwin. “Learning this new [advisory board] position was like any new position; it can be overwhelming. However, City staff and board members are kind enough to walk you through the process and guide the projects in a manageable time frame.”
Serving on an advisory board is a win-win situation for the community and you. The City Council gets community-tested recommendations from advisory boards that help them make more informed decisions. Advisory Board members get an opportunity to expand their network, develop leadership skills, and contribute to the direction of our community.
“I encourage community members who are concerned with Lacey being a great place to live and raise a family, to explore the various advisory board opportunities. Find an area that is of interest to you and apply,” stated Brown. “If you have some ideas for the community, joining an advisory board gives you the best opportunity to not only share your ideas, but it provides a forum to develop and push those ideas forward.”
Stipend Program on the Horizon
The Lacey City Council recently adopted an Advisory Board Stipend Program to reduce barriers to participation in government by offsetting costs associated with volunteering in these positions. For example, costs could include: childcare coverage during the meetings, transportation to and from meetings, internet access to meetings, and other direct financial impacts. Pending budget approval, in 2024, advisory board members will have the choice to opt-in to this program to receive a stipend of $50 per meeting attended, up to $500 per year.
Join Us: Next Steps
The City is currently recruiting for positions on our Parks, Culture and Recreation Board, Planning Commission, and Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. If you’d like to learn more or even chat with a current advisory board member, let us know! You can visit the City of Lacey website. We’re excited to work together to drive positive change and shape the future of our community!
Don’t Live in Lacey?
If you are reading this and live outside of Lacey or it’s urban growth area, we encourage you to check your local governments for advisory board opportunities.
Together, we can ensure that government remains with the people.