Camden City Council is wise to consider the role and development of city boards and commissions, and an overall restructuring of the process would be a good idea. City Manager Kevin Bronson, at council’s last meeting, laid down several guidelines that should be followed in appointing boards and commissions, all of which made sense. But it was an off-hand remark by Council member Walter Long that perhaps was most cogent of all -- that the city is not receiving minutes from some boards because they aren’t meeting regularly. And therein lies a premise: that the city doesn’t need to have boards for the sake of having boards; if there’s no reason for them to meet regularly, then there’s no reason for them to exist.
But there is indeed a need for a number of boards. Citizens-based commissions are a hallmark of government, not only in Camden and Kershaw County but across the country. They should reflect a wide range of interests and shouldn’t be rubber stamps for whatever members of council want. People who are genuinely interested in specific areas can often provide valuable input to elected officials to help guide the city forward.
Without getting into too much red tape, it would be good for the city to further codify and clarify this -- to lay out the various commissions, the number of people who should serve, how their terms should be staggered, and most important, the specific functions they should perform. That might help get rid of some of the quibbling that’s going on, and it would let commission members know exactly what their roles are. The city would do well to move forward with such a plan, and before putting it into place, opinions from every corner of the city should be heard. We’re glad council is discussing this, and it can only lead to good things.