Photo courtesy City of Richmond
Richmond City Council is strongly committed to transparency and accountability, which are fundamental concepts of democracy, wherein citizens are invited to participate in the democratic process and to hold their elected representatives accountable. Recently, we have taken steps to make it easier to review Council members’ voting records and to access the Council agenda and reports in advance of scheduled meetings.
Currently, individuals interested in learning how a Council member voted for a particular issue need to determine what date that topic or item was on the Council agenda and then read through the minutes to find out who voted for what. This can be an onerous process for residents. On March 25, Council voted to support creation of an online voting record with a searchable database. The project will be completed by mid–year and was able to be accommodated within this year’s budget allowances. No ongoing additional staff time is needed to maintain the voting database, so it is economical and ensures Council’s voting records will be more easily accessible for the public.
Council and Committee Meeting agenda packages are currently released to the public on the City’s website on the Friday night prior to the next week of meetings–with the first scheduled meeting of the week starting as early as 4 p.m. on Monday. This may present a challenge to participation from interested residents as few people are avidly checking for the package online on a Friday evening. Even if they did see the agenda package, staff would not be available to respond to queries from the public on the weekend, and it may be difficult for the public to reach Council members as well. I’m proud to say that on March 11 Council passed a resolution to have Agenda packages available five business days in advance of the Monday meeting. Folks will now have more time to be able to connect with staff, members of Council, and other interested parties.
These are just the first two steps to strengthen our commitment to accountability and transparency for the citizens of Richmond. To find our scheduled meetings, click.