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Joe Tuman, one of the candidates, said he supports the idea of a Twitter debate, but is hesitant about the possibility of a shortened answer. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Mayoral Twitter debate could influence upcoming campaigns

on November 27, 2013

Oakland’s Twitter community is hoping to create a new kind of mayoral debate in the coming election season—the kind that fits in 140 characters or less.

In a “tweet debate,” members of the community would submit questions that would then be voted up or down online, based on their interest and relevance. The best questions would then be put to the candidates through a moderator – with followers tweeting their reactions via “#oakmtg.”

The goal, according to organizer Tonya Love (@tdlove), would be to allow for broader community participation. “Oakland has set the precedent in being open to technology,” Love said. “I think Oakland is definitely ready for something like this, it’s just about getting us in the same room in a sense.”

So far, she said, candidates Joe Tuman and Bryan Parker have both shown interest. Tuman, for one, said he’s all for the idea of a debate that centers around a social media element.

“Part of the fun of this, I think, is following it in real time and kind of keeping score,” he said.

Love and one of her co-organizers, Marina Kukso, are among of a number of prominent local tweeters who regularly detail City Council meetings using the hashtag “#oakmtg.”

Kukso, who lives in West Oakland and works for LocalWiki, a nonprofit that helps communities share ideas and history through a collective website, described the idea as a more inclusive way to bring people together for civic conversation.

“In the past, if a group of residents wanted to organize a candidate debate, they would have had to book a space, get candidates to commit, and [maybe] try and get the event recorded or broadcast,” she said.  “Ultimately, my  goal is not just to make it easier for residents to interact with candidates, but to really explore how we can use these new tools to make the city more accountable to the needs and priorities of the people who live here.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that a tweet required 130 characters or less. It should be 140 characters or less. It also misspelled Joe Tuman’s name as Joe Truman.  

Image: Joe Tuman, one of the candidates, said he supports the idea of a Twitter debate, but is hesitant about the possibility of a shortened answer. Photo courtesy of Facebook. 


  1. Len Raphael on December 3, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Interesting to see if this can avoid debate by soundbite.

    But at least it holds the possibility of being a debate as compared to the Mayoral Forums where candidates can pontificate without any penalty for avoiding answering the moderator’s question.

    Working against any debate format showing clear differences between candidate’s policies are the candidates’ need to play the ranked choice voting game. Never risk losing a possible second choice vote unless you’re going to gain more first choice votes.

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