I grew up in a political family. My father was an City Alderman and my mother was a provincial Member of Parliament. They were both extremely committed to their constituents and serving the community where we lived. I remember our phone ringing during the odd dinner that they were home for, and one of them running off to speak with a concerned citizen. I remember the family Christmas that my father got a call from a constituent who had been plowed in, and him leaving to go and shovel her out. I remember biting my tongue when I heard snide comments about politics and politicians.
After talking politics every evening at home while growing up, I’ve stayed away from it in adulthood. I vote in every election and educate myself as much as possible on the issues, but I don’t generally talk about it, and I haven’t become involved in any campaigns. I do follow a few politicians on twitter, but that’s the closest I’ve come to getting “involved”.
This weekend I experienced a social media success story that might change that.
On Friday night, I realized that my water meter was leaking in my basement. The water had pooled into the underlay and the carpet was soaked. I called the region and they were very helpful and reacitve, and had someone at my house wihtin an hour to fix the meter. I soaked up the water as best I could with my Sham Wows (they’re good but not this good!) and planned to finish the clean up the next morning.
Saturday morning, as I explained what had happned to my parents, they immediately said that the region should pay for the damage, since it was their meter that caused it. I hadn’t thought of that, but I decided to call my councillor. I called both of my Ward 3 Oakville town councillors, leaving messages for both. A half hour later, I hadn’t heard back, so I looked them up on twitter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find either of them. But I followed and had interacted with two other town councillors who are not in my ward. So I tweeted them.
Within a half hour, I had a tweet back from Alan Johnston (@alanjohnston).
I emailed him an overview of the situation and asked for his advice. He gave me a phone number to call and said that he was out of town, but asked me to update him. When I called the number, I was told that I would need to speak to someone who was only in during business hours, so I sent Councillor Johnston an email, thanked him for putting me in touch with them and told him I’d hope that they would help on Monday. In the meantime, I would be cleaning my basement.
Alan Johnston didn’t wash his hands of the situation at that point, even though it would have been absolutely fine if he did – I felt that I was taken care of. He emailed back and said he would try to get a hold of someone that day. When I told him not to worry about it, he replied that it was not a worry, and the email had been sent.
On Monday, I called the person I was told to call, and she knew who I was right away, saying someone had been in touch with her colleague over the weekend. Obviously, Alan had truly done what he said he would. Anyway, the woman I spoke to was very helpful, and I’ve just got my fingers crossed that they will process my claim.
Then Alan Johnston wowed me again.
Now, at this point, I have told Alan at least 3 times that I’m grateful for his support and that all is well. But, even though I don’t live in his riding, he has taken responsibility for my issue and is seeing it through to satisfaction. All because of a tweet on a Saturday morning.
I should mention that the other Councillor that I tweeted to replied within about an hour and a half, offering to help as well. Thanks to Pam Damoff (@pamdamoff) for her social-ness as well. One of the Councillors I called did return my call the following day. I still haven’t heard anything from the other one. I also received a tweet from the Town of Oakville – but not until Monday morning. Still, I appreciate it.
Just serves as another reason why I love social media and twitter.
And this social media success story may just persuade me to help Alan Johnston in the next town election – even though he’s not in my ward. I hope other politicians learn from this story. Social media is a place where you can engage and interact with your constituents, and gain fans and supporters – if you truly care and are social.