I appreciate the thoughts Marc Chase expressed in his column on my social media presence, or “anti-social” media presence, as he points out.
As Hammond’s mayor, Twitter and Facebook are forms of communication that allow me to more effectively communicate with my constituents. They are tools I use to be as transparent as possible. Still, I also understand that, being relatively new in the overall scheme of things, social media also brings a new set of challenges.
For me, I appreciate the opportunity to communicate directly with my constituents, with nobody in between me and the Hammond residents I serve. I don’t have a team filtering my social media accounts, nor does anyone approve my messages before I post them. Sometimes it is difficult to keep up with all of the posts — after all, I have 5,000 Facebook friends — but I do my best to stay active in these new platforms.
Chase's column, criticizing me for some of the content of my posts, reminded me of the criticism Gov. Mike Pence received recently regarding his social media practices. As a reminder, Pence recently came under fire for deleting Facebook posts that were contrary to the position he took on HJR 3, the proposed referendum defining marriage in our Constitution. The governor was chided for a lack of transparency, for deleting messages that ran counter to his position or that cast him in an ill light. Pence’s response to these criticisms of censorship was to blame the deletions on his staff that manages the sites for him.
I am proud to say that when you friend me on Facebook, you really do friend me on Facebook. And I am committed to being as transparent and honest as I can be in all of my constituent communications, including those online.
Obviously, when human beings are talking about politics it can become a bit controversial. I am not perfect, but I am honest. And I respect the rights of people who disagree with me to post or tweet or otherwise communicate their thoughts and ideas.
When Chase combed through my posts over the years, along with the examples he cited, he also must have seen posts from people who expressed a difference of opinion with me, as well. There is nothing hidden, nothing sanitized.
I appreciate Chase's political advice that I should polish up and cleanse my social media presence. A lot of people and fancy advisors might agree with him. Being perfect and polished gets people elected. But I’m here to serve as the mayor of Hammond. If I err in this new age of social media, I will err on the side of transparency and authenticity.
And I do believe we can all use a good laugh every now and then.