Mayor Robert Garcia opened his Twitter feed Thursday afternoon to questions from the community in an AMA (ask me anything) event where he used one of his preferred modes of communication—the tweet—to engage with his constituents.
Last year, Garcia was named a “Tweet Elite” mayor in a report put out by Development Counselors International, which ranked the mayor as one of the top 10 city leaders on Twitter. He used those skills Thursday to answer some 50 questions in the hour or so that his AMA lasted.
“Every week I have an opportunity to attend community events and talk directly with residents,” Garcia tweeted hours before the questions started to roll in. “Today at 1pm I’ll do the same on twitter.”
And the queries did roll in. Hundreds of them.
There were some softball topics, such as his first memory of Long Beach (Mother’s Beach), his favorite book (The Count of Monte Cristo) and his favorite places to eat: George’s Greek Cafe, Open Sesame, Los Compadres, El Pollo Imperial and Hof’s Hut made the cut. Chic-fil-A, did not.
I don't eat at Chick-fil-A because I choose to support companies that support LGBTQ rights. I vote with my wallet. https://t.co/Z1QPk7zPlf— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) August 31, 2017
And of course, the notoriously comic book-loving mayor saw his fair share of DC Comics-themed questions, like which comic book-themed film he’d like to see released next and which superhero he’d pick to help the city fight climate change.
Aquaman, no question https://t.co/EjparIx8i8— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) August 31, 2017
There were also questions about his views on policies and recent issues that have been taken up either locally or at the state level. Garcia said the city will provide an update on the Army Corps of Engineers’ breakwater study soon, the Blue Line should be running 10 minutes faster within the year and that the city attorney’s office is working on a legal challenge to the 405 expansion near the border with Orange County, which stands to significantly impact surface street congestion in Long Beach.
How does the mayor feel about Long Beach becoming a sanctuary city?
I will support both a statewide and local approach. Step 1) we were first city in CA to support SB54 which will get final vote by Sept 15... https://t.co/sttq4ciW1d— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) August 31, 2017
We are urging @JerryBrownGov to sign and not water down. Step 2) After Sept 15 and we know exact language, council should take up issue...— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) August 31, 2017
...and reaffirm local support & create companion local policy to address gaps in the law. If council passes more protections I will sign.— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) August 31, 2017
What about the mayor's public stance on making the city greener, while also having the city poised to allow more drilling for oil in the Los Cerritos Wetlands?
Most of LCW is private property that we don't control. Our plan has been to buy parcels and restore and remove oil barracks. https://t.co/kFpQtXEYHH— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) August 31, 2017
And of course, parking, and the fear that recent high-density developments in downtown might exacerbate an already parking-impacted portion of the city?
Needs to be multimodal approach. Also current developments follow current parking requirements. Happy to chat w/ you over coffee if u want— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) August 31, 2017
The mayor got close to 300 responses for his mid-day AMA, so not surprisingly some questions went unanswered.
He did not respond to a question asking for his feelings about receiving political donations from an individual and also a business owned by the same person nor did he respond to repeated tweets from members of a recently-formed committee seeking to oust Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce regarding his support for the councilwoman while she’s being investigated by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for events stemming from an early-June run-in with law enforcement.
Garcia did answer some tough questions, but some users interjected their frustrations into the AMA feed.
too bad you weren't willing to answer this and instead choose to answer 10 questions regarding comic book characters and movies instead.Sad!— shiborigirl (@shiborigirl) August 31, 2017
Garcia is not the first politician to use the AMA format as a way to communicate with those he represents. Former President Barack Obama and current President of the United States Donald Trump have both used Reddit to host their own AMAs in the past few years.
The mayor hinted this will likely be the first of future AMAs.