TINTON FALLS – The issue of whether municipal officials should respond to questions asked by residents on the Tinton Falls government’s Facebook page was a topic of discussion during the Sept. 17 meeting of the Borough Council.
Council members said the administration recently created a Tinton Falls page on the social media platform.
The Facebook page contains items about events and news in the borough. Visitors to the page may leave comments or ask questions relating to an item that has been posted by municipal officials.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Gerry Turning, a former mayor, former police chief and former borough administrator in Tinton Falls, asked officials, “Why won’t the borough respond to comments posed by residents on the borough’s Facebook page? If a citizen is asking a question, they have a right to an answer without having to drive here (to town hall) and asking you in person.”
The four council members in attendance – Gary Baldwin, John Manginelli, Brock Siebert and Nancyanne Fama – responded to Turning.
Baldwin, the council president, said, “The Facebook page went up without my knowledge and without the knowledge of this council. The administration has the right to do that. I’m not going to look at it. I will answer questions that are asked of me by letter or phone. I don’t think I’m wrong in not participating on Facebook.”
Manginelli said, “As of this point, I’m not familiar with Facebook. I prefer (to be contacted) through email or a text message. … I may have to learn (to use Facebook) if I hope to stay in public office.”
Siebert said he was aware the borough’s Facebook page had gone up. Siebert said if he responds to a comment that has been posted by a resident, “I try to direct people to the correct personnel if they ask a question.”
Fama said, “If the administration decided to put up the page, they should respond to people asking questions. It will reflect poorly on the administration and the town as a whole if those questions are not responded to.”
Councilman Christopher Pak was absent from the meeting.
Turning wrapped up the discussion by saying he “objects to the borough not responding to comments and questions. I’m not objecting to what the administration is putting on Facebook, they are mostly good news stories.”
The former mayor asked for a policy to be developed which would describe how borough officials should respond to comments that are posted on the Facebook page.