Has communication between West Hollywood residents and their local politicians changed? Digital media has been rapidly growing as a form of communication with the modern-day citizen. Most of us have even experienced politics and digital media first hand. Along with many others I cried as I watched President Obama’s farewell speech on Facebook live. I attended the Women’s March, now known as the world’s largest protest organized through social media. I was introduced to Bernie Sanders through a Facebook video, which contributed to the increase of his millennial vote, ultimately giving him a 29% lead of voters under 30 years old.
We must face the fact that traditional politics is shifting; how we connect with WeHo citizens is, naturally, part of this result. This method of communication has proven to be effective on a national level, so shouldn’t it be applied on a local level as well? The challenge has become how to accept this change and effectively reach the residents of WeHo.
Bear with me on this. For just a moment, let’s take away our feelings about digital media and replace them with research. The New York Times states that Facebook consumes 50 minutes a day from the average user. When I think about my daily activities, I can conclude that there are much more productive things I could be doing during that 50 minutes. Pew Research Center conducted a study showing that in 2016, 88% of adults were using the Internet. Taking into consideration that you’re reading this article, I think we can all agree that you make up a part of that percentage. Borrell and Associates projected that in 2016, political ad spending will have topped $8 billion, with over $1 billion on digital ads alone. Not to mention that the cost of a digital ad is far more affordable than traditional media, especially in regards to politics.
Voter turnout is an overwhelming issue in West Hollywood, with less than 20% who vote in local elections. So, what does that say about the greater 80%? For a city that prides itself on being politically active, you would think that more people would come out to take a stand on the local level.
It’s reported directly by the City of West Hollywood that the majority of residents living here are ages 20-39, totaling at 15,306 people. Yet as I walk the streets, talk with my neighbors and canvas the majority of our residents, they are unaware that a local election even exists in March. This is not because they don’t care, they simply have yet to be connected to WeHo politics. I have found that most do have an opinion on the issues that affect them locally, and most of them are open to and want to contribute towards change in the community.
Yes, all WeHo residents have the same number of resources as the 20% who educate themselves on how to vote. But the question remains, how do we connect with all residents efficiently in a more personal way? If we want to be a progressive city with a loud voice in this turbulent political climate, then we need to get our community behind voting in the city council election on March 7. I urge you to challenge yourself, your friends and your neighbors. Ask yourselves, what are we doing to empower one another, how can we progress the city we reside in? We must not stay stagnant. If we never dare to step out of our norm and embrace change, the residents of West Hollywood will never move forward together.
With these goals in mind, I am committing to a digital platform to reach the citizens of WeHo more effectively. I will be broadcasting Facebook Live “shows” on Thursday and Sunday evenings leading up to March 7. These shows will provide instant communication with me. I will continue to bridge the gap between voters and nonvoters in WeHo, and connect with all of our residents.
Carla Romo is a candidate for West Hollywood City Council. For more information about her platform, volunteer opportunities and upcoming events, please visit her website at www.CarlaRomo.org.
Follow her on Facebook @RomoForWehoCityCouncil and share her official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RomoForWehoCityCouncil/