Tweeting at council meetings common
Municipal politicians in the Tri-Cities are embracing social media to link with their constituents and get the word out about civic policies and decisions.
Elected officials are primarily using Facebook and Twitter — even during city council meetings — as quick, easy ways to reach out to local residents online.
Among those who are most prominent with their announcements are Coquitlam Coun. Selina Robinson, Port Moody Coun. Diana Dilworth, PoMo Mayor Mike Clay, Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore and Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart.
"I'm online every day, as often as I can," said Robinson, who is regularly seen tweeting during council and committees meetings. "I like people to know what's going on but I also like to know what they're saying about us in Coquitlam."
Moore, who chairs the Metro Vancouver regional district board, has a professional Facebook page with 2,257 "Likes" and often posts videos of himself online to explain topics. Still, while social media serves its instantaneous purposes, "it does not replace face-to-face and phone calls," Moore said.
Clay said he started writing about city issues on his website and blog nine years ago; in 2007, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google+ were also added to his forum. He regularly breaks news via social media — provincial notifications, emergency response situations, traffic tie-ups, etc. — or posts information about upcoming matters for city council to gain feedback prior to meetings.
During Port Moody Coun. Diana Dilworth's campaign for a federal seat recently, YouTube videos were key for her. Dilworth boasts 909 Twitter followers and has tweeted 920 times since 2010. "I often will share and retweet what others have posted on social media, which further spreads the information," Dilworth said.
Coquitlam Coun. Linda Reimer finds social media time consuming, preferring instead to listen to residents' concerns on the phone or at community events.
But her colleague, Coun. Terry O'Neill, who was elected last November, likes to publish his opinions on his blog after each council meeting. His text is sometimes picked up by media outlets and can lead to radio interviews.
Newly elected PoMo Coun. Rick Glumac is well-versed with online posting: his Facebook statuses automatically connect to Twitter and his personal website.
Among the feedback he's generated include concerns about the lack of daycare spaces in the city, which "prompted me to investigate our zoning and I found that [Port Moody] is one of the most restrictive in the region when it comes to commercial daycares," Glumac said. "I thereby brought forward a motion to adjust our zoning. This to me is a great example of democracy at work."