Celia Barrett, a Gulfport resident, has been attending Gulfport City Council meetings for quite some time now. Barrett says, "I’ve been attending the meetings since Katrina because that was the only way you could find out anything and I just continued to come because I enjoy being at the meetings."
The City Council recently made a decision to make meetings and agendas accessible online. This comes after the council made its first step towards more transparency, which allowed the council members to view agendas electronically, rather than wasting 500 to 800 pages of paper at each meeting. Chris Vignes, Public Information Officer for Gulfport, says, "The idea is to make it more accessible for citizens of Gulfport and for people that can’t make the meetings. They can now look online and watch the entire council meeting or look at specific agendas. That way they can be a part of the process without having to be here."
The City Council’s move from paper to digital is not only saving trees, but is also saving residents some driving. Barrett also says, "I think it’s great. For one thing, I come to all the meetings and this means if I don’t have to get out of my office, I can watch some of it and still keep up."
The push toward more transparency and easier access isn’t finished yet. Ricky Dombrowski, Gulfport City Councilman for Ward 2, says, "And our next step that we’re taking is actually to record the votes and be able to vote and it will show up on your screen." The City Council hopes to serve as an example to surrounding city councils.
Dombrowski closes, "We’re the first city in the State of Mississippi to actually do this, so we’re proud of that and we’re going to try to continue to be on the edge of making sure we do things proactively."