Jeff Weninger: Due to the popularity of social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, more than a thousand “fans” and “followers” are receiving frequent updates from the city and are able to post comments and questions relevant to city services and amenities. These new tools are expanding our outreach efforts and encouraging the public to engage in dialog among themselves and with city staff.
By now, most of us have become familiar with terms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs. Access to electronic technology and social media resources are no longer reserved to the so-called computer-savvy generation.
In fact, people of a wide range of ages, socioeconomic and educational backgrounds are tapping into these resources to connect with others and share information. Clearly, as technology continues to progress, so does the way we communicate. This applies to individuals as well as industries, not only in the private and nonprofit sectors, but also at the government level. As a City Council member, I find it crucial to continually look for ways to improve communication with constituents. It is essential to our democratic process and decision-making efforts.
In Chandler, residents have many avenues to share suggestions, questions and comments with city staff and elected officials. The city Web site — www.chandleraz.gov — provides links to each city department including contact information for the mayor and council office. Residents can also provide feedback by sending e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (480) 782-2200. In addition, an online service request form can be filled out directly on the Web site.
A great benefit of advanced technology is that residents no longer need to travel long distances and wait in line to obtain information. The city provides automatic e-mail notifications for special events, road closures, meeting agendas, recreational programs and more. To subscribe to these e-mail updates, to pay bills online, register for classes or apply for jobs, residents can simply log on to the Web site and look for “E-Services.”
Live programming of cable channel 11 and public safety channel 98 are also available online through streaming video. Anyone with Internet access can tune in to live or archived programs from just about anywhere in the world. City Council meetings, study sessions, Planning and Zoning Commission meetings and shows like the “Mayor’s Review,” “Chandler in Focus” and “Come Out and Play” are only a few of the programs available on demand.
Recently, the Communications and Public Affairs Department also took the initiative to reach out to an even wider audience by creating a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Due to the popularity of these social networking sites, more than a thousand “fans” and “followers” are receiving frequent updates from the city and are able to post comments and questions relevant to city services and amenities. These new tools are expanding our outreach efforts and encouraging the public to engage in dialog among themselves and with city staff.
Personally, I have also started sending video e-mails to interested parties to express my thoughts on various topics affecting our community. Typically, these e-mails are sent after each City Council meeting to keep our constituents informed of the decisions made. Anyone interested in receiving these updates can request to be added to the distribution list by sending me an e-mail directly at Jeff.Weninger@chandleraz.gov.
Aside from these tools, it is important to continue providing opportunities for face-to-face contact. In the past few years, the city has held more public meetings on major projects like road improvements than ever before. The public is always encouraged to attend City Council meetings, neighborhood workshops and various community events to stay involved with the actions of our city.
And if you have any ideas on how I can better communicate with you, please do not hesitate to call my office and let me know. The more we hear from residents and keep the lines of communication open, the better positioned we are to make decisions and improve the future of our community.
Jeff Weninger is a member of the Chandler City Council.