From Washington to Hartford, legislators are linking in, loading up and hoping their constituents will, too.
Many elected Connecticut officials are taking advantage of the same tools used by President Barack Obama during his campaign, embracing technology to communicate more effectively with constituents. Obama’s campaign was heralded for its expert use of technology to mobilize supporters and donors, and closer to home, elected officials are turning to the Internet to stay connected with their constituencies.
Sen. Chris Dodd said Twitter, YouTube and Flickr help him maintain constant lines of communication with Connecticut residents.
“Twittering is a fast and easy way to let people know what I’m working on every day, and it allows me to share some behind-the-scenes glimpses into the life in the Senate,” Dodd said in a statement to the News. “Similarly, with YouTube and Flickr, people can view videos of my floor statements, speeches at press conferences and pictures from recent events to keep them in the loop of what I am doing, both in Washington and Connecticut.”
Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, who recently updated his official Web site to include videos and podcasts, said he has gotten positive feedback on his multimedia offerings — particularly because his broadcasts are also available in Spanish and Italian.
But aside from providing a platform for his “Open Mike broadcasts,” Fedele said, the Web also offers constituents a convenient way to ask questions and give feedback to elected officials.
“People can let me know what they want to know,” he said.“One person wanted to know how he could sign up to become an organ donor. We asked around and discovered that this was a common question so we used our Web site to make people aware of this very important program.”
Dodd’s Twitter feed lists items from the mundane, like his traveling schedule, to updates on the passage of important bills like the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Though she does not yet use Twitter, New Haven Rep. Rosa DeLauro announced last week that after the economic stimulus bill passes she hopes to have “tele-town hall meetings” to educate specific constituencies on how to take advantage of the stimulus programs.
The Internet conferences, she said, are still in their formative stages.
As of Sunday night, 1,100 people have subscribed to Dodd’s Twitter feed.