The caucus staff for the Louisville Metro Council Democrats and Republicans have created social media pages to better reach constituents.
Currently, a handful of city lawmakers have official Facebook and Twitter accounts where they update their ordinances and district events.
Others use their personal website to update on their council work, but most have not signed on to social networking to reach out to constituents.
Democratic Caucus spokesman Tony Hyatt says the technology is a good way to let residents know what’s on their agenda, and that more lawmakers will be logging on soon.
“I think the goal is to eventually bring everybody along. You know as well as I do there are some folks who were a little late to the game in understanding how social media operates. Our goal is to get the information out of what’s going on with the caucus, meeting notifications, letting them know about progress reports on certain things,” he says.
Several city departments such as parks and police have social media sites, and Mayor Greg Fischer periodically hosts online town hall meetings.
According to LEO Weekly, some council Democrats raised concerns about creating a page citing “negative” criticism and worries that social networking would be subject to open records law.
“We want to add a new dimension and have one more way of getting information out to people. We’ve been working on getting it out to the public,” says Republican Caucus Director Steve Haag. “Our biggest concern is not so much issues of open records—we want everything to be out there—but people on their own time posting something meant for their campaign account accidently going on their government account. We have tried to set up safeguards to make sure there is a line and that won’t happen.”
Both sides agree that due to less local media coverage of City Hall, council members need to find better ways to get messages to residents directly.
“Traditional coverage that we knew is not necessarily a priority anymore unless it’s a controversial issue,” says Hyatt. “You get into a lot of situations where there are things that are going people want to know, just those pieces of information that you may not be getting from television or radio or even from the print media right now.”