Get involved with your city by joining a committee

By: Carol Feineman, Editor Lincoln News Messenger
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Lincoln residents often complain to me about city policies, from zoning laws to business fees.

It has always been like that at any city I’ve worked in since that’s the nature of the newspaper business.

Many of the policies upsetting Lincoln residents are set by City Council, based on recommendations made by the city of Lincoln’s various committees.

These committees, ranging from the Planning Commission to the economic development committee, are comprised of interested community members who volunteer their time to give input on various matters that make a city run efficiently.

Residents have always had an opportunity to be involved in setting these policies.

Such as now, when eight city committees have openings.

Those committees with openings are the library advisory board, transit committee, economic development committee, code enforcement/nuisance abatement, theme and naming committee, parks and recreation committee, building board of appeals and Planning Commission.

Members of the boards/committees/commission can serve two four-year consecutive terms, according to Lincoln city clerk Patricia Avila.

“I can’t answer for the Council but I would assume they are looking for citizens who are interested in participating in city government and who may have knowledge or experience of the particular area of interest of the committee they are submitting an application for,” Avila said.

Of the eight committees, the theme/naming committee, building board of appeals and code enforcement/nuisance abatement meet as needed, according to Avila. The library advisory board, transit, and parks and recreation meet quarterly and the economic development committee and Planning Commission meet monthly.

“Committees meet at various times. Some are prescribed by the Lincoln Municipal Code; some meet quarterly while others meet as needed,” Avila said.

Any resident interested in serving on a committee must submit a completed application to Avila by 5 p.m. Jan. 21. Applications are available at City Hall, 600 Sixth St. or at the city’s website at

Christine Colvin, who has been on the parks and recreation committee for two years and now hopes to join the Planning Commission, is very enthusiastic about helping the city.

“Being on the committee allows for me to participate in the role of our city government through suggestions and ideas of the people,” Colvin said. “It is very rewarding to do this with the community.”

City Council plans on selecting new members by February.

“Applications are gathered and held until such time as council can be assembled for interviews with prospective candidates. Selection is finalized once interviews are completed and, depending on the number of applications, interviews can be held over two days,” Avila said. “With the deadline in late January, it is likely that the appointments won’t be confirmed until the first meeting in February, possibly the second meeting in February.”

I asked Lincoln Mayor Stan Nader why residents should join these committees.

“Citizens volunteering to serve on various city committees is important,” Nader said. “The City Council and city staff depend on citizens to assist in the decision-making process relating to numerous city functions by sharing their expertise and giving of their time in service to their community.”

During City Council meetings, I frequently see that the council relies on recommendations given by various committees before voting on updating or changing policies.

Committee members take their volunteer duties seriously.

And each member positively impacts the city.

It’s really easy to be a “backseat driver” and second-guess City Council decisions.

It’s not as easy to be in the “driver’s seat” and attend committee meetings, where you’re responsible for researching information regarding the council’s upcoming decisions.

But serving on a committee is a worthy gift residents can give to the rest of Lincoln’s residents. This is a perfect time to get involved.