The commission, that currently only has three members, voted 2-1 to recommend Chuck Mitman and Pat Hefley join the group.
Hefley, the local SEARHC clinic administrator, spoke at the commission meeting this week.
” [I] would like to be able to offer my observations, offer comments, and try to represents, as this gentleman, to say ‘here’s some thoughts we might want to consider.’ I listen. I like change. I like differences of ideas, but I really try to work toward consensus seeking and moving things forward,” said Hefley.
Hefley was also one of Mayor Jan Hill’s choices to be appointed.
At the last assembly meeting, Hill asked the group to confirm Hefley, and Lynn Canal Counseling Director Kelly Williamson to fill the vacant commission seats.
She also requested a code change to allow interim superintendent Rich Carlson to serve as an ex-officio member.
But, borough code for filling vacancies says commissions make recommendations to the mayor – the assembly sent it back to that group.
At this week’s commission meeting, Hill said her choices were made in an effort to expand the scope to include public health issues.
Last year, the public safety commission asked the assembly to add a representative from SEARHC, Lynn Canal Counseling and the Haines School, to change its name to the Public Health and Safety Commission and alter its duties and responsibilities to include health issues related to public safety.
The assembly supported bringing these professionals into the conversation, but not through a code change. Ultimately, it did not make the changes. But Hill still wants to officially bring them to the table.
“In order to try to make that happen and have this body be a task force to deal with the drug and alcohol issues, we thought well how about adding some resource people that actually work in that field,” said Hill.
She talked about the importance of addressing issues of drug abuse.
“We can’t bury our head in the sand anymore,” said Hill. “In this community we have talked about the elephant in the room with regard to domestic violence and abuse. And we now have a safe home in this community because we decided we weren’t going to be afraid to talk about it anymore. Well we have a drug problem, we have an alcohol problem in our community and we all know it. We all know someone that’s struggling. And I see this body as the right body to help us address some of those issues.”
Police Chief Heath Scott, who last year started the conversation about broadening the scope of the commission, said he wants to see more productivity.
“I just have a ton of stuff to do, that’s largely done by myself, to come to a meeting at the end of the day to get nothing done. I want to move forward. That’s all I say. That’s all I have to say. I just want some forward progress. I feel like we’ve been adrift,” said Scott.
Recommendations are passed on to the mayor, but the assembly has the final say.