Chatham’s municipal election candidates utilize social media for outreach, endorsements

Posted 10/25/19

Social media use as part of a political campaign is nothing new.

And candidates for the various municipal offices in Pittsboro and Siler City this year have taken full advantage.

All three …

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Chatham’s municipal election candidates utilize social media for outreach, endorsements

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Posted

Social media use as part of a political campaign is nothing new.

And candidates for the various municipal offices in Pittsboro and Siler City this year have taken full advantage.

All three candidates for Siler City Mayor, all three for the District 3 Commissioner seat for the Siler City town board and four of the seven candidates for Pittsboro Town Commissioner have been using Facebook and/or Twitter pages to publish their credentials, showcase their personalities and even endorse other candidates through this election cycle.

Siler City Mayor John Grimes, whose Facebook page tops all candidates with 475 likes as of Oct. 21, said his page is a way to “reach a segment of our population that prefers to get their news this way.” Since his page’s inception in August 2017, Grimes regularly posts photos of himself at public events. Last week, he posted photos of his campaign mailers in both English and Spanish, something fellow mayoral candidate Jackie Adams did this August.

“I use social media because many generations use it more often than not,” Adams said. “It is important to involve young people in politics, and to do that, you have to meet them where they are.”

Multiple candidates, particularly those in Pittsboro, have posted about their positions on issues on their Facebook pages. Commissioner John Bonitz, who is seeking his second term, clarified some of his comments from an NAACP forum in an Oct. 16 post and announced an endorsement from the Chatham-Orange chapter of the Sierra Club on Sept. 24. Fellow candidate Lonnie West shared an endorser’s praise in an Oct. 13 post and restated his positions from a candidates forum on Chatham Park tree coverage, climate change and other issues on Sept. 20. Siler City commissioner candidate Michael Constantino advocted on Oct. 15 for voters to “keep this board together — they deserve it.”

It also allows, as Siler City mayor candidate Albert Reddick stated, transparency from the candidate and an opportunity to interact with potential voters.

“Social media is a good platform for the community to get to know the candidates and what they stand for,” Reddick said, “and it’s a good platform for the community to express to the candidates their concerns.”

Those campaigning will also utilize their social media presences to announce things like forums and share early voting schedules. Pittsboro candidates Kyle Shipp (on Oct. 15 and 16) and Heather Johnson (on Oct. 16) encouraged residents to go vote during the early voting period. Others like Siler City commissioner candidates Curtis Brown and Timothy “Cookie” Brown have posted their campaign signs and announced they were available for supporters.

In an even rarer occasion this cycle, Pittsboro mayor candidate Jim Nass — who is all but assured of the seat because he is unopposed — endorsed three commissioner candidates on Facebook on Oct. 16.

“After very careful consideration and attending two candidate forums, I wholeheartedly endorse Jay Farrell, Pam Cash Roper and Kyle Shipp for Town Commissioner,” Nass wrote. “These are the candidates that will do the work, be prepared and do the best job for all of Pittsboro.”

Whether it’s selfies or policy positions or advocacy for a cause or another candidate, those seeking elected office in Chatham County this year have made it clear that social media is going to be a part of not only their campaigning but their governance.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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