Fishers City Council member Jocelyn Vare expressed concern over the process of selecting appointees to the city’s boards and commissions at the council meeting Jan. 19. Yet despite her concerns, the council voted 7-2 to approve the appointees to the board.
“According to City of Fishers website, Fishers boards and commissions are a great way for citizens to get involved in their local community. These groups provide input and direction to the city council on decisions that could impact Fishers for years to come. This participation from our residents is essential to maintaining our status of one of the country’s best places to live,” Vare said.
However, Vare said out of the 95 available seats, there were few people of color, women, people from the LGTBQ community and those with disabilities. Vare said she discovered that 80 percent of current board and commission appointees were white males. There are only three people of color on the 24 boards and commissions, and zero appointees were from the LGBTQ community or a person with a disability. Vare said eight people sit on more than one board, and one appointee for the police merit commission and fire merit commission was said to be a Democrat, as the commissions legally require a Democrat representative for political balance, but that appointee actually did not qualify as a Democrat.
Vare said she worried there is a lack of diversity on the boards and commissions, which has led the boards and commissions to be “grossly under-representative” of the Fishers community.
“This is a problem because it maintains exclusivity and prevents more diverse voices from participating in city government,” Vare said. “Citizens can indeed apply to serve and the application is always accessible online and open to public, but my question is did the city council majority review any of these application prior to finalizing these 2021 appointments?”
Vare said she received the applications the day of the council meeting and found there were 47 new applications, but she did not receive any acknowledgment of if the applicants were reviewed by the council.
Vare requested the council immediately take several actions: complete a formal audit of all boards and commissions appointees to identify the overall composition of gender, identity, race, religious beliefs, political party, conflict of interest and number of terms served; deploy an immediate callout through the city’s social media channels to Fishers residents inviting them to apply to serve on the boards and commissions; complete a poll of all applications received in the past two years and require current appointees whose terms are up to reapply and be reviewed amongst all applications and to create a nominating committee to review the appointees. She then asked for the slate of appointees to be approved at the February council meeting.
Vare and council member Sam DeLong, both Democrats, voted in favor of Vare’s requests, but the request was denied by the other seven members of council, all Republicans. Then, the council voted in favor of approving the appointments to the boards and commissions, with Vare and DeLong voting against the notion.
For more, visit fishers.in.us.