MURPHYSBORO — Jackson County’s recently formed Citizen's Advisory Board, a body that will advise the state’s attorney’s office, is having to learn as it goes.
Randy Auxier is the 12-person board’s first facilitator, a rotating role the board has chosen over an elected president.
Auxier is serving alongside Debbie Dunn, Elder Burke Cawthorne, John Erbes, Catherine Field, Carolin Harvey, Margaret Howard, Nancy Maxwell, Nick Smaligo, Janice Witzman, Gloria Campos and Kathy Wills.
The CAB was created by Jackson County State’s Attorney Joe Cervantez. The board will serve only Jackson County.
Cervantez said part of the idea for the CAB was to find ways of bringing in ideas and issues that may not normally make it to him — as some people are intimidated to talk to the state’s attorney.
Cervantez hopes the board would be this link.
These concerned community members can meet with a CAB member to have them potentially deliver their idea or concern. He said he plans to attend each meeting and present information from his office.
Auxier said there isn’t a lot of guidance on creating the advisory board because there aren’t many such organizations out there.
“It really doesn’t exist anywhere,” Auxier said. “We have to improvise this as we figure out what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”
Because of that, Auxier and others did not have much to report regarding the CAB’s first two meetings. He said the group has several practical questions that need to be answered about the CAB’s exact function in the community and some of these answers can only come with time.
Harvey said one thing she hopes to see is the CAB using data to help the Jackson County community.
Because the group is still very much in its fledgling stages, Auxier and his fellow board members declined to share early drafts of the group’s chartering documents. But he said when they are finalized, they will be publicly available.
Auxier said he and the other board members have much to learn. This isn’t limited to just the ins and outs of board policy but extends also to the function of the state’s attorney’s office. So, he said, they will begin training to learn about the many programs Cervantez has at his disposal.
“We need to know all of that in order to be effective with our goals,” Auxier said.
Thursday was the group’s first full meeting — Carolin Harvey said there was an April meeting that was far from full attendance.
On Thursday, 10 of the 12 members were present. While she, too, wouldn’t talk about specifics, she said she appreciated the diversity of the group, both in terms of race as well as backgrounds and political leanings.
“I’m glad there are people on the committee that I don’t know,” she said.
Unlike a courtroom acquittal scene that has played out many times throughout the U.S., Derek Chauvin — the white former Minneapolis police officer whose fatal encounter with George Floyd was caught on video last year — was found guilty Tuesday on all counts by a jury after a two-week trial.
Even with the disparate backgrounds and ideologies, Auxier said the interactions have been thoughtful.
“We just haven’t had difficulty agreeing on things,” he said.
While everyone might not agree on specific courses of action or ideas, Harvey said they are still a united front.
“We’re all concerned with one thing, which is doing something to help the community,” Harvey said.
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