There are about 25 volunteer boards and commissions in the City of Portsmouth, with a wide array of policy areas and commitment levels available. Most city boards are composed of three to nine members. Typically, the majority of the board will be made up of Portsmouth residents who have been nominated by the mayor, and then confirmed by a majority of the nine-person City Council. Most boards also include at least one member of the City Council, who acts as the “council representative.” On some boards, there will also be one or more members assigned to it because of their job (for example, the Traffic & Safety Committee includes the chiefs of police and fire, as well as the public works director).
Some of the boards involve substantial time commitments on a regular basis, and encourage nominees to have certain educational or experiential backgrounds. Several of the land-use boards, such as the Historic District Commission (or HDC), the Planning Board, and the Zoning Board of Adjustment, are good examples of this.
Other boards make substantial decisions, but typically require less of a time commitment, because the meetings are shorter and/or less frequent. Some even meet on an “as needed” basis.
The policy areas vary greatly. There are some that deal with land use (like those listed above), with the city’s library, economic development, recreation, traffic and safety, sustainability, dogs…you name it, there’s probably a board that can fit your skills and interests!
There’s much more information, including a full list of boards and commissions, a downloadable application, and current openings, here.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can certainly reach out to the chair of the board in which you have potential interest. You can also send us an email, and we’ll be glad to steer you in the right direction.
Once you apply, if the mayor wishes to nominate you for a position, he or she will likely contact you, interview you, and then submit your name to the full council for a vote. You service would begin immediately upon confirmation by the city council.
This is a fantastic way to get involved, learn more about municipal government, and give something back to the community!