South Toms River Mayor Oscar Cradle and Business Administrator Joe Kostecki have announced the launch of planetcivic.com, a new social media platform to help ensure the residents of the town have their voices heard. 

Sometimes life gets in the way and you can't make it to a town council meeting but you still want to give your input on the initiatives.

Planet Civic allows you to chime in as you please.

The hope for this new platform is that it will better gage public opinion on a number of ordinances or other proposals the borough is introducing.

This way people who can't get out of their house can communicate directly with the mayor.

It is part of a pilot program, and it is one of only two towns in the state to do something like this.

Planet Civic is not a live feed, but rather a 24/7 type of social media platform.

Kostecki says, "People at any time of day can go on, see the questions that the mayor and council pose, and vote 'yes' or 'no', whether they like it."

Another hope is that they will be able to transform this platform into active civic participation.

Welcome to South Toms River sign (South Toms River website)

Mayor Cradle says, "At this point, we've got quite a few people signed on and there's more signing on everyday and we've put initiatives out there to get their opinion on and we have had some feedback on that."

There are currently five initiatives on the site ranging from whether garbage should be collected twice a week in the summer, to the school referendum and state legislation for the legalization of marijuana.

When asked how they could improve involving the public even more, the two said they are frequently looking into different ways and that could include a 'Facebook Live' session with  Oscar Cradle following the trend set by Brick Mayor John Ducey.

STR does not have the ability to get a TV station like other towns which is another motivating factor behind advancing their social media use.

Planet Civic is not the only way platform to reach the Mayor and his council.

Kostecki says, "We have seven different lines of communication from social media to the standard robo call. We know that everybody is different, so we need to adjust ourselves for communication and active civic participation because at the end of the day, if we don't gage their opinion, we're not exactly going to expect them to participate in the community."

Mayor Cradle says he's even had residents contact him in person as well.

"People have the opportunity to call me, stop by my house...at any time I get quite a few people who stop by my house. Quite a few people have cell number where they can contact me 24/7...and they do."

They just want the public to have their voice, and they will keep doing everything they can to ensure that's the case.

To use the site, all you need to do is go to planetcivic.com, log in and confirm that you're a resident.

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