Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board reviewing new member applications -- Gazette.Net


With four openings on the Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board, members and county executive staff will be reviewing applications for new members. They hope to find new members from “upcounty” areas lacking representation, including Damascus, Darnestown, Laytonsville, Barnesville, Beallsville and Washington Grove.

The county executive’s office has received nine applications, according to Connie Latham, a special assistant to the county executive.

Applicants go through a review process that involves the county executive’s office, the board and the county council, said Upcounty Regional Services Center Director Catherine Matthews. She said that along with a selection committee of three board members, she’ll interview candidates she gets from the county executive’s office.

“We’re trying to make the board as diverse as possible ... in terms of ethnicity, interest, expertise,” Matthews said, “and also geographic representation of the region.”

The board was formed in 1985 to advise the county executive and council on issues ranging from road projects to economic development “to make sure that the ‘upcounty’ perspective is considered in deliberations,” Matthews said. It reviews master plans, zoning changes and the county budget, among many other topics.

Matthews supports the board in communicating with the county executive, providing context and informing the board on issues. She recommends guest speakers to discuss different topics that come before the board.

Important ongoing issues the board addresses are continued work on libraries and schools, transportation, infrastructure, and jobs, Board Member Daisha New said.

The board holds most of its monthly meetings at the Upcounty Regional Services Center, occasionally meeting in different areas to be accessible to more residents.

In a call for applications — which were due on May 30 — the board encouraged residents of underrepresented areas to apply.

Following interviews with candidates, the board’s selection committee will recommend candidates to the county executive for appointment, board Chair Cherian Eapen said. Appointees are confirmed by the County Council.

The full board consists of 20 members. It currently has 18 following the resignations of James King, due to other obligations, and Natalia Farrar, who was appointed to another board.

Two members, Juan Cardenas and Matthew Leakan, are retiring from the board because they have completed their second three-year term, which is when members must leave the board. Both of their terms expired at the end of May, but New said they will be asked to remain on the board until their positions are filled.

Four members’ first full terms end this year. They plan to reapply for their positions: Eapen, Scott Graham, Robert Nelson and Gail Robinson.

At the board’s next meeting on June 30, Nelson will replace Eapen as chair and New will become second chair, New said.

Pat Seals will remain first chair, according to New.