CORUNNA (WJRT) - (04/20/17) - Officials in Shiawassee County are looking for a few good men and women. They can't find enough people to serve on various boards and committees.
Local government depends on everyday people serving on county, city and township advisory boards and panels, but in the past few years, those people have been hard to find.
"It used to be there was a waiting list if you wanted to serve on the 911 Central Dispatch committee or the planning commission or the zoning board of appeals. There used to be a list, now there's not with the shortage. We have over 20 vacancies right now," said Dan McMaster, Shiawassee County District 2 commissioner.
McMaster is a case in point. He has been serving as a county commissioner for four months now. He filed for the election when no one else from District 2 did. He ran unopposed.
That problem has been happening more often. Candidates for local elections often run unopposed. Jeremy Root, the chairman of the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners says there are nine boards that have vacancies.
Part of the problem may be people don't realize their help is needed. There has almost always been a waiting list so people have found other things to do.
County officials have begun advertising in local newspapers and have been using social media to let people know there are openings on local boards.
Often those who serve are paid a small fee and are reimbursed for mileage. Local government can't function well if there aren't enough people offering leadership.
"We're seeing a decline I think because not everybody works here in the county. Some people may travel an hour, two hours for work. They may not be able to here in the middle of the day for a meeting or maybe when they get home they have other commitments," McMaster said.