Northampton seeks citizen participation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2006

JACKSON – A broader base of citizen participation is the goal of the Northampton County Commissioners.

For months, the Northampton County board has been adamant they want to see more citizens involved in the government process.

&uot;We need a broader base so we don’t rely on the same folks over and over,&uot; said Commissioner James C. Boone (D-3rd), who has been one of the most outspoken members of the commission on the issue.

Boone said if more people understood the government, they would be able to be more informed and more involved.

&uot;Many times people don’t comment about what’s going on because they aren’t knowledgeable about it,&uot; he said. &uot;We want more people to be involved and therefore understand the workings of local government.&uot;

Another proponent has been Commissioner Robert V. Carter (D-4th). The vice chairman of the county board said his goal was to have people be involved and learn about government.

&uot;The more involvement there is, the more people will realize they are participating in what government is doing for them,&uot; Carter stressed. &uot;People generally want to be involved, but if they aren’t given an opportunity, they can’t be involved.&uot;

Carter said he wanted to see more people with more ideas involved in the county’s boards and commissions.

All five members of the county board, which also includes Commission Chairwoman Virginia D. Spruill (D-2nd), Commissioner James Hester (D-1st) and Commissioner Fannie P. Greene (D-5th), have pushed the issue in recent months, asking County Manager Wayne Jenkins to build a database of those who would like to serve.

Jenkins has said he has such a database, but the number of people who have expressed interest is relatively low.

The County Manager said he would also like to see more citizens involved and encouraged those who were interested in serving to send a letter of interest to his office at P.O. Box 808, Jackson, NC 27845. He asked that those who send letters specify which boards and commissions they would like to serve on.

The Northampton County Commissioners appoint citizens to more than 70 boards and commissions. They include, but are not limited to the Chamber of Commerce, Criminal Justice Partnership Advisory Board, the library board, planning board, R-C Mental Health Advisory Board, recreation steering committee, Roanoke River Basin Regional Council, Smart Start, the ABC Board, BMB Shelter Home Board, E-911 Advisory Board, Northampton County Agricultural Advisory Board, the Social Services Board and the Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport Authority Board.