State Senator Hosting Twitter Town Hall

Jill TokudaHawaii voters approved the change from an elected board last year, but it will take legislative action to determine how the new system will work.

On Friday, Sen. Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Education Committee, is hosting a “Twitter Town Hall,” or “Twitterview.” She’ll be taking comments and answering questions about planned legislation that will implement a Board of Education that is appointed by the governor. Interestingly, Gov. Neil Abercrombie initially opposed an appointed board, but ultimately cast his ballot in favor of the measure.

Sen. Tokuda was kind enough to answer a few questions about the “Twitter Town Hall” today.

Q. How direct are your Twitter activities? Are you tweeting personally, and if so, with what service or device?

A. I do all of my own tweets from either my personal computer or iPhone.

Q. Why a ‘Twitter Town Hall’ versus other ways to engage the public? What’s appealing about this audience?

A. While we continue to engage the public through more traditional venues such as community meetings, briefings and hearings, and phone and email communications, I have been looking for new ways to communicate with a broader audience on important issues such as this. For some, testifying or attending larger (or even smaller) group meetings can be quite intimidating. Through the use of mediums such as Twitter and Facebook, I find that people tend to feel more “liberated,” and are open to expressing their feelings and opinions on the issue. It also addresses some of the barriers that exists with traditional means of engagement, such as travel and work schedules.

Q. Do you have a sense of the level of engagement of your constituents specifically on social media? Or is it more a general sense of the growing importance of these tools?

I am definitely a novice when it comes to the use of social media, but an absolute convert when it comes to understanding the importance of social media as a community engagement tool. I’ve been utilizing Twitter and Facebook for about a year and a half now, and have been very impressed with how effective it is in reaching out to people, and helping me to develop deeper relationships with the people I serve.

Q. Will the content of this Town Hall be rebroadcast or separately provided to non-Twitter using constituents?

A. We are currently working on ways to repost the conversation for others to view after the town hall. We are also looking at options to allow DOE employees and students to participate, given that Twitter and Facebook are both blocked from school computers.

Sen. Tokuda will be on Twitter from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 7, responding to messages directed to her at @jilltokuda and tracking the conversation with the hashtag #askjill.

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