Opinion: I Use Digital Media to Bridge the WeHo Voter Gap

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.

Carla Romo

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/


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Dan Morin
Guest
Dan Morin

Not a chance of coming close. You state: “…how do we connect with all residents efficiently in a more personal way?” And you consider facebook a personal way. Really? And I hope you and all facebook users fully comprehend the enormous amount of data mining that is taking place. That is truly scary.

Keith Kaplan
Guest

Stepping out of the norm to embrace change does not require disrespect of the community, our organizations or the other candidates. While Ms. Romo is correct in her assertions that the modes of communication are changing this did not preclude her participation in the candidate forum nor does it provide her an excuse for counter-programming with her Facebook Live event. There is plenty of time and opportunity for Facebook Live events to connect her to the voters in the weeks leading up to the election. I remain unimpressed.

fine7760
Guest

Alison, with our current postal system and the crooks running our elections I prefer to vote in person as many others also do. How do you even know if your vote has arrived and been counted? At least I know my vote has been deposited in a official voting box.

But the question is not answered, what happened to local, neighborhood voting sites?

Alison
Guest
Alison

@fine7760 that is a poor excuse. I have voted by mail for years. You don’t have to drive for that.

Jim Nasium
Guest
Jim Nasium

Those people that aren’t aware a local election even exists, probably also think they live in the City of Los Angeles.

Typical lazy citizen. No hope for them in digital, analog or paper.

fine7760
Guest

If it wasn’t for my ability to still drive, voting each election would be very difficult. What happened to local polling places within walking distance of one homes? Kings Rd. Park is approx. one mile from my home. During the past Primary it was two or more miles away east of Crescent Hghts. I could easily walk to the Kings Rd. parking structure but no not there. I could even walk to the City Hall but no not there. What about the Ritts Building which has been empty for over a year? Not there either. Why don’t the citizens vote… Read more »

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

Dear Carla, Perhaps you have not been paying attention. The city council voted to move the election in sync with the national election to improve voter turnout. There have also been other steps for campaign reform that improves city hall to resident communication. I was excited to see you at the debate but you did not attend. What kind of candidate brushes off the community and the other candidates in the one and only debate sponsored by the League of Woman Voters and the Chamber. If you also visit http://www.weho.org, or have went to city meetings you would be more… Read more »

Election Woes
Guest
Election Woes

Thank you Carla for your refreshingly articulate and informative approach. There was a feeling you were engaging in an experiment and a mighty positive and thoughtful one at that.