The Twitter Transparency Era has begun in Lexington. Vice Mayor Jim Gray (@JimGrayLexKy) and Councilmember Diane Lawless (@DianeLawless) began using Twitter tonight live from Madison, Wisconsin. It was just a small step for Jim and Diane, but a giant leap for the intense months-long effort (led by Ace) to get the Urban County Council to adopt open, transparent, and timely conversations with their constituents.
We’ve watched as leaders in other locales (Fayetteville, Cleveland, Newark) and in other leadership roles (The White House, Governor Beshear) have adopted Twitter as a means of communicating with their citizens, and we’ve wondered aloud what has taken Lexington’s leaders so long to recognize the importance of doing so.
Well, no more.
There were a few stumbles among the initial baby steps of Lexington’s Transparency Era. Gray’s and Lawless’ sudden adoption of Twitter seems more inspired by their exposure to Madison than by our local campaign. But it is rewarding to know that our local efforts and conversations with Lexington’s council have been confirmed by a respected and successful city like Madison. A few Twitter veterans critiqued these initial tweets for their frequency and apparent awkwardness. But it is easy to forget just how clumsy our first uses of Twitter were, too. (I initially used Twitter - clumsily and unsuccessfully - for shameless self-promotion instead of as the relationship-building platform it eventually became.) Our leaders will learn how to use Twitter better with time and patience.
Even with such stumbles, this is a very encouraging development for Lexington: Some of Lexington’s most progressive leaders have opened conversational channels to the citizens who elected them. We can begin to have more vibrant and timely discussions with our representatives (and they with us). We citizens deserve to see the inner workings of our city government. And this is a good start.
But our work is not done: Two down, many more to go.