City seeks concerned citizens

HARLINGEN — For every resident who thinks he or she has a better idea of how things ought to be run, now’s your chance.

Officials here are putting out a call for volunteers, hoping to fill 47 openings on city boards, ranging from the advisory committee for the animal shelter to the zoning adjustments board.

Those vacancies are on 15 of Harlingen’s 26 municipal boards. Almost all are filled with volunteers with some expertise about the board’s mission.

“Board appointments are sometimes difficult to make because you want to find someone willing to volunteer their time and who can contribute a special talent to that particular board,” said Mayor Chris Boswell. “It is not always easy to find the right fit.”

The nearly four dozen openings on Harlingen’s boards seem to be on the high side. By contrast, the city of Brownsville has 21 active committees. It has six vacancies.

Harlingen’s board openings, Boswell said, may not be an accurate measure of the reality of the true makeup of those boards.

Some of the “vacancies” are the result of a board member’s term having expired, yet he or she continues to sit on the board and help make decisions until a new board member is chosen as a replacement.

“What happens is board members serve until their replacement is appointed, so sometimes people will just allow them to hold over, thinking that they might replace me in six months or a year when they find a good replacement,” the mayor said.

Those who sit on one of Harlingen’s boards, which are only advisory in nature but often have a major influence on how city departments operate, say they have found their experience to be eminently satisfying.

“We have a really good board,” said Jacob Montalvo, who owns and teaches at the Harlingen Jiu-Jitsu Club and sits on the Harlingen Proud Advisory Board. That board, also known as the Keep Harlingen Beautiful Board, has nine vacancies.

“I think it’s a great thing to show community involvement, to show that you’re interested in your community and try to help out any way you can,” Montalvo said.

Kenneth Pruneau has been a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for four years.

Prospective board volunteers, he said, “have got to have some feeling for the city.

“It’s not that you just live here,” said the 85-year-old Pruneau, “you are part of the city.”

“Your age is not going to make a difference,” he continued. “You can, in some way, contribute. It’s what you can do for the city of Harlingen.”

With the arrival of a new year, Boswell and other city officials want to put the word out for interested citizens to get involved.

“We welcome all volunteers to submit their names for consideration,” Boswell said. “We appreciate all of our outstanding volunteer board members for the service they give to the city of Harlingen.”

HOW TO APPLY

A list of city boards and applications for a board position are available at www.myharlingen.com

Upon completion of the application, drop it off at City Hall, 118 E. Tyler Ave.

Applications also may be obtained at City Hall.