Candidates are starting to emerge for the city elections later this year. Two have announced, others are thinking about it and still others will be approached to run.
Social media has become a part of 21st century politics. Four years ago, Eric Bookmeyer used the Internet as a strong voice for promoting his candidacy through texts and videos espousing his views.
Two years ago, John Lee announced his candidacy on Facebook and it wasn't long before the word spread throughout the community.
This year, Quinn Symonds didn’t formally announce his candidacy for mayor on Facebook but he might as well have. Through it, he told friends he was planning on running and that turned out to be just as effective as an announcement.
Jodi Draper confirmed last week she is a candidate for the at-large seat on the council. She hadn’t intended to announce her intentions this soon, but Facebook chatter let the word out.
Social media can be a powerful force, powerful enough to start revolutions in some countries. In North Iowa, Facebook and other Internet interactions are like electronic bulletin boards.
Sometimes, you have to do a lot of scanning to find the “bulletins” — but we are living in an age when many people do a lot of scanning — spending hours reading about who has the flu today, who has a new recipe for rice pudding, who has a cute poster they want to share — and who’s thinking about running for office.
Facebook may work well as a bulletin board. It remains to be seen in North Iowa how well it will work to link candidates with likely voters. Our demographics may not be fitting for it. We are a community that is old and getting older.
The older generation has a reputation for respecting and embracing the right to vote. They will be there on election day, either in person or via absentee ballots. The younger generation has yet to earn that recognition.
So, as popular as Facebook and other social media have become for many things, their use as political tools in North Iowa may be negligible.
The comedian Betty White may have spoken for many seniors after a Facebook campaign was launched to have her host “Saturday Night Live” a couple of years ago.
She said she didn’t even know what Facebook was until she was told. Her response:
“In my day we called that the telephone — and I didn’t waste three hours a night on it.”