Lewis County residents aren’t lining up to take on the unpaid role of setting the salary for their elected officials. So far, only five willing residents have stepped forward for the 10 open positions on the Salary Commission, nearly six weeks after it was recreated.
The Salary Commission is a panel of county citizens who serve on a volunteer basis, meeting to determine the salary for county commissioners and other elected officials. The panel was reinstated by county commissioners in May, after some officials noted they have not seen raises in awhile.
Six of the commission’s members are selected by lottery from a database of all registered voters in the county. Election officials have been reaching out to a long list of voters in each district, trying to find residents who are willing to serve. So far, the county has lined up two candidates apiece from Districts 2 and 3, but none from District 1. None of the willing parties have yet been sworn in by the county.
Commissioner Edna Fund, who represents District 1, said the county’s human resources staff is reaching out to more voters.
Meanwhile, the remaining four panelists must represent specific fields — business, law, labor and personnel management. So far, only one candidate has responded to the county’s recruiting efforts, representing the business category. With its initial recruiting largely unsuccessful, the county plans to target specific entities in those industries.
“(We need) focused recruiting for those fields,” Fund said. “If we do full-scale recruiting, we might not get the people we need. … Maybe we could send letters to organized labor, find out who the lawyers are.”
Rieva Lester, clerk of the board, mentioned the possibility of putting out a public service announcement on the radio.
Fund said she’s eager to have the Salary Commission get to work, but it may take a redoubled effort on the county’s part to fill out its membership first.
“We can’t start it until we have a group that have been selected,” she said.