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Recently-elected Bill Pealer tests text message communication in Geneva

Pealer plans ahead of 2020 Geneva City Council with SMS texting service

By Gabriel Pietrorazio

As holiday season is in full gear, one councilor-elect in Geneva is getting prepared to serve ahead of starting his first term.

Geneva Ward 2 City Councilor elect, Bill Pealer Jr. has successfully tested a SMS texting service from EZ Texting, which can shape the future of informing residents and registered voting citizens about local government in the City of Geneva.

Last evening, an automated text was sent at 9:24 p.m. as a test to a small sample audience, which read: “Thank you for your commitment to try modern tools of communication.”

Pealer, a media production specialist at Finger Lakes Community College is familiar with innovative technologies and seeks to introduce them to better inform and organize city government from his perspectives as a soon-to-be elected official in Geneva.

Prior to testing the service, Pealer has already been compiling mobile phone numbers from Geneva residents who have opted into the service, which respects the rights of personal privacy.

The text messaging service shall send notifications about town council meetings and close the distance between elected officials like Pealer and the general public.

Pealer also emphasized that this service functions separately from the city administrative branch.

While cloud services occasionally suffer from hacks, Pealer has planned ahead by consciously considering how to protect user data.

As the leader of this pilot initiative, Pealer is solely collecting the first full name, last name initial, mobile number and residence street name, all of which he classifies as pertinent information to have on-file.

During a recent premeeting prior to being sworn into office this upcoming January, Pealer brought this idea to the table, which “got some push back” from his fellow peers.

Hopefully, Pealer aims that all councilors will ultimately support his plan, which would cost between an estimated $48 to $54 for each councilor on a monthly basis.

While he wishes for his new councilors to collaborate in this endeavor, Pealer admitted that he can coordinate this project in their absence if necessary.

If not, Pealer is willing pay for the service by himself with his public servant salary since he values injecting inclusionary approaches to announcing public information.

Currently, the city sends email announcements about meetings and Pealer considers this method of notifying the public as more exclusive in comparison intimate SMS texting.

“I am trying to make good on two promises: to hit the ground running and improve communication,” Pealer told FL1 News.

Pealer also suggested for each councilor to front $1,000 annually from their salaries to fund what he calls a “Council Micro Improvement Program,” which would cumulatively total $9,000 that can be allocated to fund a handful of community events including “gardens, events and arts.”

After already receiving a few dozen sign-ups, Pealer confirmed that anyone who possesses a Geneva address is eligible to join the listing, even businessowners.

For Pealer, he hopes to encourage civic engagement among Geneva residents by partaking in this service.

Those interested in subscribing to the text messaging service may contact Pealer through his Facebook page: Elect Bill Pealer Jr.

Gabriel Pietrorazio is a senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He’s written for the Town Times of Watertown, Connecticut Times, Finger Lakes Times, and currently serves as reporter for FL1 News. Feedback, tips, and story ideas can be sent to [email protected].

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