What does a dentist, an elevator boring contractor, a law enforcement officer and a farmer living in Minnesota have in common?

They are all eligible to fill a few of the current 530 open appointed positions on various boards, commissions, work groups and task forces serving the State of Minnesota in a variety of important ways.

A dentist is needed for an open seat on the nine-member Minnesota Board of Dentistry. This board examines, licenses and regulates dentists and dental therapists, hygienists and assistants and enforces the Minnesota Dental Practices Act.

The State Advisory Council on Wells and Borings is currently looking for a licensed elevator boring contractor to serve a four-year term. This council advises the Minnesota Department of Health on licensing or registering well contractors and explorers, and on technical matters relating to the regulation or the construction, maintenance and ultimate sealing of wells and borings. The council also advises the MDH well program on policies, proposed rule revisions and technical matters and administers oral examination to well contractor applicants.

A licensed law enforcement officer is needed to fill a seat on the Teen Driver Safety Commissioner’s Advisory Task Force, formed by the State Legislature in 2019. This task force, which is slated to end its work in 2023, will advise and provide input to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety on teen driver issues with the goal of reducing crashes, injuries and deaths involving teen drivers. Besides representatives of law enforcement and public and private driver schools, the task force also has seats needing to be filled by four teen drivers and three community-at-large members.

An open seat on the Minnesota Pesticide Management Plan Committee is reserved for a state farmer. The committee, which has been in force since 1976, provides the Minnesota Department of Agriculture commissioner with evaluation activities and decisions related to the implementation of the state Pesticide Management Plan for the Protection of Groundwater and Surface Water (the PMP).

This quick review of just four of the 254 boards, commissions, work groups and task forces shows just how necessary they are to the workings of state government and what an invaluable asset the 3,636 state residents serving in the current positions are to the state.

Secretary of State Steve Simon, whose office acts as a clearinghouse for applicants seeking positions on the state’s board, commissions, work groups and task forces, said recently Minnesota is fortunate residents consistently show an eagerness to volunteer their knowledge, skills and life experiences to benefit the state. The actual appointments are made by the governor and the state departments and agencies where the various groups are housed.

“We are seldom scrambling to fill positions even though some require very specific licensure and affiliation,” Simon said.

The challenge, he added, is to make sure every area of Minnesota, rural and urban, north and south, east and west are adequately represented. “We need people from every corner of the state serving to get a healthy balance of input and opinions in the important decisions these boards, commissions, work groups and task forces make. The impact they have on life in Minnesota is immeasurable.”

And, just as important, is encouraging more members of diverse communities to apply. “We need everyone at the table,” Simon said.

This is why Simon says he speaks about his office’s responsibility as the clearinghouse for applications at every opportunity. He is proud of this unique role the Secretary of State’s office plays in Minnesota since most states don’t have the same system. The Minnesota Open Appointments Act was authorized by the Legislature in 1978 to simplify and open the appointment process.

As evidence of the effectiveness of Minnesota’s appointment process, Simon points to the fact that there are over 24,000 subscribers to the online “current openings” notification.

Looking through the long and varied list of opportunities to serve the state in this way, everyone who is interested and has the time to serve should find something they qualify for and are passionate about.

A list of boards and commissions, including open positions, can be found on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website. For questions about the process or how to get involved, contact gov.appointments@state.mn.us. — An editorial from the APG of East Central Minnesota Editorial Board. Reactions are welcome. Send to: editorial.board@apgecm.com.

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