City’s Nominating Committee procedures get council attention

The City Council briefly discussed nominating committee procedures at Tuesday night’s agenda session.

The chairman of the committee, Alderman Kyle Cook, said he had received some comments after the last batch of approvals, particularly with the planning commission appointments.

The people Cook spoke to thought the process was not public enough, which he countered by saying the applications are available at the City Clerk’s office and all the meetings are public.

“I always say democracy is not easy,” Cook said. “If you want a piece of democracy, you got to jump out there and get it.”

Cook said he presented the issue in case the council wanted to make changes to the process.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said he had also received comments about the recent appointments. People had suggested making the list of applicants available to the public a week before the committee votes on the nominees, he said.

Brenda Thiel, who represents Ward 1, responded by saying people can already get the list by calling the City Clerk’s office.

But, Alderman Robert Rhoads brought up the distinction between having a public record of the applicants and actually publicizing the information, where the list would not just be “in a drawer in Sondra’s [the City Clerk’s] desk, but actually publicize it, where it gets in the paper.”

“If we really want to be transparent, why not publish it?” Rhoads said.

The discussion fizzled out shortly after that and ended with Alderman Bobby Ferrell highlighting that people could email Sondra Smith, the City Clerk, for a list of all applicants. “I don’t think the process is broken,” said Ferrell, “and I don’t think it needs to be fixed.”

The process for becoming a committee member starts with submitting an application to the City Clerk’s office. Those applications are then sent to the Nominating Committee, which includes Council members Cook, Adella Gray and Shirley Lucas. Then, that body sets up interviews and makes recommendations to the City Council. The council then votes on those recommendations at an open meeting.

Mary Robbins is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She declared Fayetteville as her hometown upon moving here for college. She is a Journalism graduate who enjoys live music, the outdoors and attending city council meetings. For more of Mary’s contributions, visit her author page.