Don't Just Vote. Serve On A City Board!

One thing is clear every election season: Winter Park voters are passionate about their city. Emotions run high even when turnout is low.

But turnout shows civic pride, so do your research and get ready, Winter Parkers. If you’re not voting by mail or voting early this week, show up at your polling place on March 8.

Better yet, demonstrate even more civic pride by volunteering to serve on one of Winter Park’s two dozen advisory boards and commissions. It’s a guaranteed way to make a difference in how the city conducts its business. Volunteers are always needed and some openings will need to be filled as soon as this month.

If you’re interested, click here and take a look at your options. Boards and commissions have different levels of responsibility. Some, such as the Parks and Recreation Board, are purely advisory. They may recommend policy and budgets. Others, such as the Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustments, have quasi-judicial responsibilities similar to those in a court of law. Still others, like the Nuisance Abatement Board, have the power to levy fines against code violators.

When you’ve found a board that fits your interests, work experience and/or education, click on the “Apply” option in the upper right-hand corner of the boards page and complete the application form. Don’t delay. Picking board appointees will be among the first duties of a newly elected commissioner at the March 23 commission meeting.

The board appointment process changed two years ago when voters approved changes in the city charter. For a period of time prior to that, the city’s mayor made all appointments. Now, the mayor appoints three people to the seven-member boards and each of the four commissioners makes one appointment per board. Appointments take into consideration an applicant’s specialized knowledge and experience.

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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