We recently had the opportunity to speak with Susana Gonzalez Edmond, a Civil Service Commissioner in the city of Long Beach and a proud HLI alum from 2011. In our conversation, Susana shared valuable lessons she's learned throughout her four years as a commissioner. These insights can help you better prepare for your journey as you consider serving on a commission, board, or committee.
Lesson 1: Understand the Time Commitment
Before applying for a commission, it's crucial to understand the time commitment required. Commissions may have different meeting schedules, workloads, and expectations. If possible, reach out to an existing commissioner to learn about the commission's flow and their personal experiences. This information will help you determine whether the commission aligns with your availability and dedication.
Lesson 2: Determine Compensation Policies
Each city has distinct policies, charters, and compensation methods for commissioners. Some commissions offer payment, while others operate on a volunteer basis. Before accepting an appointment, it's essential to determine the compensation structure and whether it's possible to decline payment. Keep in mind that accepting compensation may have tax implications, so it's important to be aware of any financial repercussions.
Lesson 3: Be Prepared for Conflict Checks
When serving on a commission, you may need to undergo conflict checks to ensure there are no conflicts of interest between your commission work and other aspects of your life, such as employment or financial benefits. Be prepared to fill out legal forms required by the state of California and city clerks to address any potential conflicts. It's essential to be transparent and open about any possible conflicts to maintain the commission's integrity.
Our conversation with Susana Gonzalez Edmond provided a wealth of information and practical advice for those considering serving on a commission, board, or committee. By taking into account the lessons she's learned regarding time commitment, compensation policies, and conflict checks, aspiring commissioners can be better equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities of public service. Susana's dedication and enthusiasm for her role as a commissioner serve as an inspiring example for others looking to make a meaningful impact in their communities.