Denver City Council hosted its first fully virtual council meeting on Monday, July 13. Council reps, committees, and members of the public were able to fully participate.
“Following the guidance of Denver’s top health official, city council will be conducting its meetings via a virtual platform,” said president Jolon Clark. “Virtual participation will allow voices to be heard while allowing for maximum safety in a time of pandemic.”
Previously, Clark and council members had created a framework that allowed for virtual participation of some council reps at the weekly full-body meetings. Legal counsel advised that the Denver City Charter required that at least seven members – a quorum – be present in chambers during a meeting. Attorneys also advised the council that chamber doors had to remain physically open to members of the public to attend and participate in the meetings. Virtual attendance at that time would only allow people to view the meeting, but not verbally participate. The city council then returned to in-person meetings with mask and social distancing requirements.
Bob McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, however, urged the council to go fully virtual, if possible.
“Starting today and through the end of the Covid-19 emergency, I am recommending that city leadership work with the chairs of City Council, Council committees, and boards and commissions to determine when extenuating circumstances exist and technology promotes public participation in a manner that will decrease the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.”
With the ongoing pandemic, this has led the Council to update the virtual system. Members of the public will now be able to comment over the Zoom platform and a dedicated Zoom station is provided at the City and County Building for those who require it. Additional virtual listening sessions are also scheduled over the next few months.
“Council members are committed to creating more opportunities to hear from the public, and these first three listening sessions are just the beginning,” says president pro tem Stacie Gilmore. “We look forward to working together with the community to expand the opportunity for input, especially as we move into the 2021 budget process.”