Max Broome, Forestville’s new Citizen of the Year, grew up in Forestville, and though he moved away for several years, he knew he’d be back.
“I always envisioned myself moving back here at some point,” he said. “I moved back to raise my family here.”
What does Broome, an attorney who currently serves on the Forestville School Board, like about his hometown?
“It’s just a beautiful place with a lot of people who care a lot about the town,” he said. “I’ve always characterized it as a hands-on town. It’s unincorporated so people have to do things themselves when they want to make things happen. I appreciate that. Plus it’s in the country. People have space to live and be, and I think a lot of people are glad about that.”
Before he was elected to the school board, Broome was on the board of the Forestville Planning Association, where he served as president. He also helped write the Open Space grant that resulted in Forestville’s downtown park.
“I was trying to keep the community abreast of what was happening in terms of current and future development projects in town. That occupied a lot of my time for a long time. Then I joined the school board and at some point I had to focus more on one rather than both.”
Being on the school board is challenging but exciting, Broome said.
“Trustees and school boards can be as proactive as they like to be — you get out what you put in,” he said. “The school board is second to the voters; it steers the ship and can really make a lot of things happen or not happen, depending on how involved the members want to be individually or as a group.”
It’s been an especially challenging year for the Forestville School District. The West County Charter School, which is located at Forestville School but was started by the high school district, has now reverted to the control of the Forestville School District. The district’s superintendent Phyllis Parisi gave notice this winter, and the board was involved in a long search for her replacement. Last but not least has been the labor unrest around the teacher contract negotiations.
“Over the last year and a half, the community has focused a lot on the school and the board, so it’s been interesting to be under the microscope more than I ever have in my almost nine years of being on boards. It can get a little nerve-wracking at times and stressful but it’s also a wonderful challenge. I think we all have to keep ourselves challenged and stay engaged.”
As an attorney, Broome is a solo practitioner with an office in Forestville and Santa Rosa.
“I do a lot of business and real estate law and estate planning,” he said. “My favorite type of client is a small, family-operated business — I can do a lot to help in that situation. Also, a lot of my work is real estate-based, and that’s something that I enjoy.”
In addition to his volunteer work in the community, Broome said he’s also a very involved parent.
“My daughter is a sophomore and my son is going to be a freshman next year, and I have a lot of fun being involved in their lives and showing up as much as I can. It’s one of the blessings of being self-employed — I can spend a lot of time with my kids. I show up for all their events and performances.”
“Parenthood is fleeting,” he said. “You only have your kids at home for a relatively short time in your life so that’s been a priority for me.”
Broome said that one of his inspirations for being both an involved parent and involved community member were some of the adults he knew growing up in Forestville.
“I always remember those parents and those adults who were involved or coached or came to help at the school. To this day, I remember them,” he said.
He’s also trying to model community involvement for his children.
“I think it’s good to let my kids know that it’s important to be out there and participating in some way to show that you care. A byproduct of that involvement is that the kids recognize that it’s important to be involved and show that you care and help try and make a difference.”
Broome will be celebrated for his contributions to the Forestville Community at an event on June 15 at Druids Hall on Vinehill Road. The event will also recognize two volunteers of the year, Amy Nultemeier and Nick Alberigi, as well as business of the year, DW Enterprises. Tickets are $45.