One of my favorite parts of serving as your mayor is learning of many wonderful things that are happening throughout our community. Schools, businesses, nonprofit organizations and individual citizens do so much good in so many ways. I wish more people knew about these good works.
Communicating with all of the citizens of Gig Harbor proves to be a difficult challenge for every organization I know of, and the same goes for the City. No matter how much we try, we continue to get some who say “Why didn’t you tell us?”
Here’s what we are doing to keep our citizens informed on what’s happening at City Hall, and how we make access to City records and information easy:
▪ Public meeting notices: The City spends thousands of dollars each year sending out public notices for a variety of meetings such as City Council, Planning Commission, Arts Commission, Parks Commission, Lodging Tax Advisory Board, Design Review Board, Hearings Examiner hearings, and several City Council committees. We post notices of our public meetings, hearings, open houses and gatherings that involve the City Council on the front page of our website: www.cityofgigharbor.net. The approved minutes from these meetings are also posted on our website.
▪ Press releases: We issue press releases of items of interest and upcoming events throughout the City. Press releases are also posted on the front page of our website.
▪ Social media: Social media, including the City website, the police department’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have greatly expanded our ability to get information out in a timely matter. In our police department, citizens are now interacting with us through many of these channels. The police department has more than 3,000 followers on both Facebook and Twitter, allowing our police department to send out important information such as road closures, hazards and crime trends. Requests for information to the public on social media have led directly to solving many crimes.
▪ Current projects: Our active projects list and long-range planning is available to the public on our City website as well as gigharborplanning.com.
▪ Cloud storage: Recently, we began moving many City documents to the cloud for storage, which affords the public even easier access to City information. Now, when citizens ask for documents that are stored on the cloud, they can be given a link so that they can review those documents from their computer.
▪ Online permit process: Many of our permit processes are accessible online as a convenience to our citizens. On the City’s website you can also apply for some permits and view scheduled inspections.
▪ City officials at various public meetings: On Thursdays our city administrator, police chief and I attend the Chamber of Commerce’s Public Affairs Forum. Sometimes we are the featured speaker updating the public on the latest news, but every week one or more of us gives a short announcement of current City issues. Once a month, a handful of City officials attend the Downtown Waterfront Alliance public roundtable meeting at which information is shared and announcements are made about City happenings. City officials also sit on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Waterfront Alliance, and other organizations where they constantly share information about City business. Our city administrator has a standing monthly lunch meeting with the president of the Chamber of Commerce in which both share information about the happenings of both organizations.
▪ The Future: Government on Demand: We try hard to keep the public informed as to all that we do at the City. As technology progresses, we look forward to new and exciting ways to improve our communication with the public. Later this month, the City Council will consider new technologies which will make connections between citizens and the City even more effective.
We continually strive to find innovative ways to reach out, inform and engage our citizens. We all benefit when the citizens take an active role in their government and have free access.
Jill Guernsey is mayor of Gig Harbor.