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Posted on: September 17, 2019

City Secretary: Under the Law, Above Reproach

council members seated in front of digital screen during public meeting

Allen’s City Secretary adds new features to help citizens access public records.

It’s perhaps the most misunderstood title in city government, but it’s one City Secretary Shelley George wears with pride and good humor.

“I once took a call from a longtime resident asking me to type a letter for her,” shared George, who has worked for Allen for 22 years. “Some people don’t really understand what we do and assume our main job is to answer the phone.”

George and her staff are responsible for much more. They manage Allen elections and ensure candidates and other ballot measures follow the law. They serve as custodians of city records, from contracts to meeting minutes to construction blueprints, and ensure all new laws are properly represented in the City code. They coordinate outreach efforts for the Mayor and council members and help recruit and train members of city boards and commissions.

“It’s a tremendous responsibility,” said George. “We ensure our government is transparent, follows the law and is accessible to the public.”

To help citizens easily find what they need, George spearheaded an effort to move thousands of city documents out of file boxes and onto the internet. Using the Online Records Portal, city ordinances and resolutions are easily searchable by keyword, date or reference number. You can even read public meeting minutes from 1953 to present day, no public information request necessary.

She also arranged the installation of a new voting system used during public meetings. Rather than taking votes by raising their hands, council members now record their votes on touch screens. The results display clearly in council chambers and for citizens watching on Allen City Television.

“Depending on where you were sitting or how the camera was positioned, it was hard for the audience to tell who voted ‘in favor’ or ‘opposed,’” explained George. “This system makes council voting more transparent so all citizens can be informed.”

When the May 2019 charter and school bond election promised to draw large crowds, George worked with Collin County to locate a second election day polling location inside the Allen ISD Service Center, helping voters avoid long lines. In the coming year, the City Secretary’s Office will embark on another big project: working with Collin County to help educate voters about new voting equipment. The machines will record votes digitally and on paper ballots for voters to review—a process aimed at eliminating confusion and preventing fraud.

“Voting is our most important expression of civic involvement,” said George. “On behalf of the citizens of Allen, we are here to make it fair, impartial and accurate.”

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