Politics

Heads up: Berkeley’s Mayor to start tweeting soon

Mayor Tom Bates has had a Twitter account for three years, but has managed zero tweets so far. That’s about to change

In April 2009, Mayor Tom Bates opened his Twitter account. Since then… silence. Three years have passed without a single tweet, although Bates has garnered 309 followers for his silence.

That’s all set to change, the mayor says.

“I’m getting ready,” Bates said to Berkeleyside. “I thought was was time for me to join the new generation. Berkeley is supposed to be where things start, but in this case, we’re going to be followers.”

Bates cited many other mayors that have taken to the twittersphere with aplomb: locally, Oakland’s Jean Quan and San Francisco’s Ed Lee (who successfully pushed for Twitter’s tax break for its mid-Market headquarters); nationally Newark’s Cory Booker, Portland’s Sam Adams, Los Angeles’ Antonio Villaraigosa. He might have added New York’s Michael Bloomberg (who has also inspired a prominent parody account, Miguel Bloombito), Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel and London’s Boris Johnson.

“I’m hoping to make some announcements in the next couple of weeks,” Bates said. Most followers of Berkeley politics expect Bates to run for reelection this November.

When asked whether he’d rival Twitter expert Booker, who even tweeted from an ambulance to the emergency room last Friday, Bates sounded cautious. “I’ll probably do it from my computer,” he said. “But everything will be done out of the office. It’s not a city account.”

Bates isn’t a complete social networking novice. His Facebook page has 2,886 “friends” and is a very active account. “We try to keep that pretty fresh,” Bates said. “That’s a city account, so it’s not political at all.”

Comparing the tweeting mayors

It goes without saying that no mayor can touch Cory Booker when it comes to tweeting. First, he has (at time of writing) 1,134,878 followers. He has 14,514 tweets. #CoryBookerStories has been a trending hashtag since he rescued a woman from a burning building last Friday. The Wall Street Journal wrote about the rescue, but also Storified the hagiographic Booker tweets. Sample: “One time I needed a kidney. Cory Booker instantly ripped out his own, handed it to me & flew away.”

To put Booker’s following in perspective, Newark has a population of 277,140 — so Booker has over four followers for every person in Newark. There’s also a definite personal voice in Booker’s tweets. Many, if not all, come from the mayor himself. That doesn’t appear to be the case with, for example, Bloomberg, Villaraigosa or Johnson (who are all running far larger cities). How do other tweeting mayors do? Check out our table of mayors in the twittersphere:

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  • Bill

    So what!

  • The Sharkey

    I smell a re-election campaign a-brewin’!

  • John Holland

    I know, seriously! My prediction: a managed account, with little personal interest/involvement.

  • John Holland

    Not to mention the @FakeTomBates twitter account!

  • BerkeleyPariah

    NOBODY CARES!

  • Nobody

    Oh, I am so glad I have never been a twitterer!

  • The Sharkey

    Funny, but now it’s kind of obvious that you’re running it.

  • John Holland

    I never intended to keep it secret. In fact, I welcome collaboration. 

  • John Holland

    BTW, I kid the mayor. He has an impossible job, and I’d rather live here than anywhere else, so I have to give him some credit!

  • Attagrrl-Berkeley

    After three years of waiting, that first tweet is really going to have to be something amazing. Way to put the pressure on yourself, Mayor. 

  • Ashleywarrenboyd

    I think this is hysterical.  Thanks for this!  

  • Julie

    Quote from above article  :Bates isn’t a complete social networking novice. His Facebook page has 2,886 “friends” and is a very active account. “We try to keep that pretty fresh,” Bates said. “That’s a city account, so it’s not political at all.” and also a hesitant “might” on this one:“I’ll probably do it from my computer,” he said. “But everything will be done out of the office. It’s not a city account.”   Not political, and he says he’ll do it from his personal computer because he’s not supposed to use taxpayer’s money to do this. BUT he has used taxpayer’s money to send out notices from the city concerning voting for Measure R, and in other ways. Way to go ex-mayor-twieeter Bates.

  • Holy cow!

    “I’m hoping to make some announcements in the next couple of weeks,” Bates said.