With the start of the New Year, the terms of multiple members serving on the town of Wrightsville Beach’s advisory boards will expire at the end of January. Of the total 15 terms set to expire, four seats will open on the planning board, three on the historic landmark commission, five on the parks and recreation advisory board and three on the marketing advisory committee.
Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti said he believes the citizen-run advisory boards are a crucial aspect of the town’s government.
“I think they are very important because it allows the citizens to have input,” Cignotti said. “Obviously, their wishes aren’t binding, but they certainly give the board of aldermen the public’s opinion.”
The town’s five advisory committees are each comprised of anywhere from five to seven Wrightsville Beach residents appointed by the board of aldermen by ballot. Members of each board, except for the board of adjustment, can hold up to three consecutive two-year terms. When choosing who to appoint to each board, Cignotti said he does not necessarily look for expertise so much as the candidates’ experience with each board’s respective area of concern. A candidate’s history with serving on these boards and a willingness to work with others are additional factors Cignotti said he weighs heavily.
“To me, I look to whether someone has done a good job if they have been on the board,” he said. “I also think one of the biggest things is your ability to work well with others, and not to have an agenda and be open-minded.”
Apart from gaining a stronger voice in the town’s decision making, Cignotti said serving on an advisory board could be a valuable learning experience as well.
“Obviously, you want some people with experience, but like with [the] planning board, you don’t have to be a professional planner to be on the planning board,” he said. “You learn a lot as you’re on that board and if you stay on with something like that for the full six years you can become pretty knowledgeable of the town’s planning process.” Cignotti served on the planning board for six and a half years, prior to running for alderman, two and a half of those years were spent as chairman.
Members of the board of aldermen are also appointed to serve on local and regional boards and committees. Appointments are made every two years and will expire again in 2013. Mayor Cignotti serves on the New Hanover County Port, Waterway and Beach Commission, the county’s tourism development authority and the Better Beach Community Board. Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sisson serves as the town’s representative on the region’s transportation advisory committee, Susan Collins on the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Board, Darryl Mills on the Wrightsville Beach Marketing Advisory Committee and Elizabeth King the New Hanover County Commissioners.
So far the town has received six applications for the 15 openings and town clerk Sylvia Holleman said those who would like to apply are required to do so before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, before the board of aldermen’s next scheduled meeting on Jan. 10. If there are not enough applications before that time, Cignotti said the town would likely extend the application window to allow more time for more applications to be submitted.
Application forms are available at town hall or on the town’s website at www.townofwrightsvillebeach.com