COURTHOUSE – Amanda Barnes, who was appointed to the position of Virginia Beach city clerk in January, is working on a number of projects, including improving the way citizens interact with city leaders.
“We’re the face of City Council,” Barnes said during a recent interview. “We will always represent the city in a positive manner. Everyone in this office truly loves this city.”
Barnes is a native of Jefferson City, Tenn., who came to Virginia Beach after meeting her future husband, Sean Barnes, through her then-boss in Tennessee. Amanda Barnes, then a paralegal, was surprised to hear about the rural character of part of Virginia Beach where the Barnes family farms to this day.
“How are you a farmer in Virginia Beach?” she recalled asking.
After coming to the Beach, she worked as a paralegal, then with the Circuit Court, and applied as a deputy city clerk in 2008. She became the chief deputy clerk in 2012, working closely with her predecessor, longtime City Clerk Ruth Hodges Fraser, as well as the late Beverly Hooks, the former chief deputy clerk.
“She taught me so much,” Barnes said.
And Barnes was also active with the Virginia Beach 4-H Livestock Club, which the family still supports.
The clerk’s office, in addition to maintaining a variety of public documents, works closely with the City Council to prepare and maintain its records. The clerk’s office also helps the public sign up as participants in public meetings and handles budgeting for the office and for the City Council. And it also helps citizens with their passports.
These interactions with citizens are very important, she said.
“We have a ton of contact with the public,” she said. “My goal in life is to treat everybody the exact same way, either the mayor or whether you’re a citizen.”
Her office is also working to assist the public with records requests, which have become more common – and more voluminous – over the years,
Barnes said her office is working with the council to make sure people understand policies for speaking during meetings and to provide information more clearly to them so they can be involved in public business.
The office is also making council agendas more interactive, an effort that should be in place this year.
“We’re now working to automate the agenda process,” Barnes said. “It will create a true electronic document. It improves the workflow, and the access for citizens will be much easier than downloading a huge document, which you have to do now.”
The office also works closely with citizens who serve on Virginia Beach boards and commissions, including collecting paperwork related to those duties and maintaining the talent bank of candidates for such vital roles in advising city leaders.
Virginia Beach is always looking for members of the public to serve in these roles, Barnes added.
Applications can be found at vbgov.com by searching “talent bank.” When completed, they can be emailed with supporting information to the clerk via email@example.com.
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