I’m not fast enough!!! This very subject commented on by triguy2008 below on my last post, was the premise of my next post about Sandra Coopers Twitter account. From what I can see our Mayor is actually the only politician I could find in Ontario that had a Twitter account that you had to get permission to follow. I will email our mayor and find out why she blocks residents of Collingwood from what I believe is her public Twitter account. I will post that email and her response as soon as I get it.
This is a great topic Nobody. It highlights the gap between the Mayor’s apparent desire to have openness and transparency in our Town and her poor decision making that actually works against such a goal being realized. It also highlights a drastic different in leadership and forward thinking with respect to utilizing technology to connect and engage citizens.
There are countless examples of Mayors across this Country and in the US that have leveraged Twitter to reach out to their citizens for input, to share information and ideas and to help during difficult times. Look no further than Calgary Mayor Neheed Neshi or former Newark New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker (now a US Senator).
The reality is that politicians and people of every persuasion are using Twitter to connect and engage in ways never before possible. It is a huge opportunity to build community awareness and sadly that opportunity is either not recognized by our Mayor or is recognized and she simply doesn’t care. I’m not sure which option is worse. Perhaps Mayor Cooper recognizes another potential benefit of Twitter which is increased accountability to the taxpayers. Ignoring an opportunity for increased accountability is nothing new for this Mayor and it might be the main reason she shrouds her account in secrecy from those outside her inner circle.
From a technical standpoint (for non-Twitter users), the settings that requires followers to be approved is not a default option and must be selected deliberately. Again, it is a deliberate act in order to restrict access!
Nobody, while I appreciate the comparisons made to some very colourful politicians (past and present, popular and unpopular), it doesn’t hit the grassroots enough to really drive home the point. It took me a few minutes but I did a search for Mayors here in Simcoe County and then took a look at the other 90 towns in Ontario. The average population for Ontario towns is 20,780 (according to the 2011 census numbers). Collingwood’s population is listed at 19,241. While doing my search, I looked at Towns with a population of between 15,000 and 25,000 to see how their local politicians utilize Twitter.
The results are very interesting. I was shocked by how few Mayors take advantage of Twitter (less than 20%). The vast majority do not have an account. Having said that, of the Mayors that DO have Twitter account, exactly ZERO have blocked access to anyone. None of the Mayoral accounts require approval for their citizens (or anyone else for that matter) to follow them on Twitter. Beyond that there was not a single other Councillor, Deputy Mayor or other local politician that was found with a Twitter account that blocked access. Heck, even Councillor Chadwick doesn’t block the ability to follow him on Twitter (comment maybe, but at least you can watch from the sidelines. Once again Mayor Cooper is a trail-blazers for all the wrong reasons.
Mayor Cooper needs to decide whether or not she is going to be all-in on Twitter or shut down the account all together. You can’t sit on the fence for this one, have it both ways, or hide behind the Twitter account settings. The Mayor needs to make the right decision and open up her Twitter feed to the lowly citizens of Collingwood!
For those of you that are curious, here are the Mayors with Twitter accounts in Simcoe County and in Ontario towns with similar populations to Collingwood and their current number of followers:
Mayor Town of Innisfil
@BarbBaguley (704 followers)
Mayor of New Tecumseth
@MikeMacEachern (211 followers)
Mayor of Midland
@GAMCEL (204 followers)
Mayor of Tiny Township
@millar4mayor (214 followers)
Mayor of Bradford West Gwillimbury
@dougwhite19 (333 followers)
Mayor of Cobourg
@gilbrocanier (166 followers)
Mayor of Kingsville
@NSantos007 (985 followers)
Mayor of Pelham
@mayordavepelham (984 followers)
Mayor of Tillsonburg
@JohnLessif (13 followers)
Mayor of Bracebridge
@GraydonTheMayor (1,176 followers)
Mayor of East Gwillimbury
@VirginiaHackson (215 followers)