Mayor Garcia Fields Questions From Public in Afternoon Twitter AMA

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.

{loadposition adfloat}

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.

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.

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?

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?

And of course, parking, and the fear that recent high-density developments in downtown might exacerbate an already parking-impacted portion of the city?

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.

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.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.