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Glendale and Burbank political races impacted by social media

Some worry it reaches a group that does not vote in large numbers.

March 22, 2013|By Brittany Levine, Alene Tchekmedyian and Kelly Corrigan

Before P.J. Gaynard goes to the voting booth, he admits that he typically doesn't know much about local politicians. But the 37-year-old Glendale resident is glued to Twitter and Facebook, and that's where he found Glendale City Council candidate Roland Kedikian.

That connection meant one more person watched Kedikian's nearly three-minute campaign video and left this post: “I think it really says something about how you feel about reaching people in 2013!”

Elections experts agree social media is an ideal tool for reaching voters. It is cost-effective and interactive, but the degree to which local candidates are taking notice has varied wildly this year.

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In the Glendale and Burbank city council races, just about half the candidates use Facebook. In the school board races, all but one of 11 candidates use Facebook. Of the entire batch, just two use Twitter.

Those who have chosen to forgo social media cite time and staffing constraints.

“It's just a function of the number of hours in the day, to tell you the truth,” said Dave Golonski, an incumbent who has served on the Burbank City Council for 20 years.

Others just prefer the old-school method of campaigning.

“My campaign is knocking on doors, handing out brochures and going to all the merchants,” Glendale City Council candidate Mike Mohill said.

Burbank City Council incumbent David Gordon also prefers door-knocking to tweets and Facebook posts.

“It is a whole big enterprise running a campaign,” he said. “Unless you're well-versed in social media and have the ability to monitor it … it's an additional task.”

But in terms of connecting with voters, it can be a task with a large payoff.

“When I was walking, I'd knock on 200 doors and talk to five people,” said Burbank Unified school board candidate David Dobson. “If I could reach 6,000 people on Facebook, or if 100 people saw me, that was still better.”

The site is especially helpful with informing younger voters, said Lori Cox Han, a political science professor at Chapman University.

That's why Burbank City Council incumbent Jess Talamantes created a Facebook page.

“A lot of the young voters are on Facebook, Twitter — that's the way they communicate,” he said.

But with younger voters still far outnumbered at the polls, some candidates say it doesn't make much sense to spend resources trying to reach them, at least at the local level.

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