Your City at Work: How Burien’s City Clerk Keeps the Doors of Government Open to All

For Megan Gregor, being a city clerk is a vocation. She works long hours to achieve her role’s primary mission—accessibility and transparency of government operations.

For Megan Gregor, being a city clerk is a vocation. She works long hours to achieve her role’s primary mission—accessibility and transparency of government operations.

The city clerk acts as a neutral third party for the city and supports an open, accessible, and transparent government. They balance the interests of City staff and leadership, City Council, and the community by providing equal amount of service to all three.

Burien’s city clerk facilitates the smooth functioning of city council meetings, manages city records, supports leadership team processes, and supervises the city hall customer service center. Gregor’s team, which includes a deputy city clerk, records coordinator, and two customer service administrative assistants, is not only providing day-to-day support for both staff and the community but also looks for ways to enhance the transparency and accessibility of City government.

Under Gregor’s leadership, City Council meetings now offer Spanish interpretation, and she’s received recognition from peer cities for how Burien’s City Council meetings have been run under pandemic-related health directives.

“When the pandemic first started, we tried offering City Council meetings by phone conference. It was confusing, and we knew right away this wouldn’t work for Burien residents,” says Gregor.

Her team partnered with Information Services Division staff to develop a technology solution and coordinated with the city attorney to develop new meeting procedures that worked for everyone, while still complying with the Open Public Meetings Act.

“We know now we can do more virtually than we thought we could before,” says Gregor. “For the future, we are focused on supporting hybrid public meetings because we have seen that that offering meetings online actually increases access. It’s easier to provide interpretation and it helps those who have caregiving responsibilities to be able participate in public meetings.”

She and her team have also made significant progress in organizing the City’s 28 years of city records. The plan is to have a significant number of city records freely available online within the next few years.

“You should be able to go to your government website to find what you need. This is a right we all have as part of being American,” says Gregor.

City Records 101

A city record is everything that is written or recorded that is produced by a city during working hours by both employees and volunteers. This includes documents, emails, photos, graphics, meeting recordings, meeting notes, etc. Washington’s Public Records Act dictates what types of records need to be kept and which can be discarded.

You can request public records by submitting a request via an online or printable form. The City is required to acknowledge receipt of the request within five business days, but is allowed to give a reasonable timeline for fulfilling the request. For larger requests, the City may deliver the documents in installments.

While many record requests can be fulfilled for free, there are sometimes charges associated with public records requests. This is to help finance the staff hours required to fulfill the request.

What is the Open Public Meetings Act?

The Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) dictates the procedures of public government meetings, including how the community is notified before a meeting (public notice process), how many councilmembers can be present before a quorum is reached (four), what topics can be discussed in an executive session, and more.

Emily Inlow-Hood
Communications & Public Engagement Manager at | More posts
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