Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Mayor of the state Senate

No, it's not Mayor Bloomberg, or Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, but instead it's state Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Rivera has begun using the social media site FourSquare, which allows users to "check in" at various locations. FourSquare boasts over 10 million users, who have the ability to check in to one of the 750 million worldwide locations. When a user checks in to a location more than any other user, he or she becomes "Mayor" of the site until another person visits the location more often.

Many businesses are also on FourSquare and will reward users with discounts or freebies if they check in ever so often (For example, Mother's Bake Shop in Riverdale gives you a free Black & White Cookie with every fifth check in).

Rivera's become the first New York State legislator to launch and actively participate on FourSquare. In the spirit of government transparency and increased accountability, Rivera has invited the residents of the 33rd Senate District to track his events online in order to better understand where and how their Senator is working to serve them.

"As state Senator, I take very seriously my responsibility to ensure the residents of the 33rd Senate District know I am available to them, whether it be through mail, town hall meetings, visiting community events, Facebook, Twitter and now Foursquare,” Rivera said. “I want my office to be creative about ways in which we can continue to engage individuals who may not normally get in contact with their elected officials. That means utilizing new, innovative ways for my constituents to find out what I am doing to serve them in their communities and to be able to hold me accountable as their representative.”

Rivera has been a champion of social media since he took office this year, actively using Facebook and Twitter to interact with his constituents. The accessibility has been a vast difference from his predecessor. 

Rivera can be found on Foursquare by going to To view a real-time, updated map of where Senator Rivera has visited constituents in the district, go to Rivera’s website:

Joseph Mercurio, a veteran Democratic political strategist, said politicians need to be careful when using social media, but added that New York City politicians should probably use it far more than they currently do.

"Frankly, in the New York City area, it’s barely used," he said. "Especially with cost of television and radio, you’d think people would use it more."

He added that politicians simply need to be responsible and know that regardless if it's them or a staffer handling the social media, if something damaging is put online, it will probably find its way into public (See: Anthony Weiner).

"If you use it properly, Facebook, FourSquare, Twitter and YouTube can be a very, very power medium."

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