Mayor, Newark, New Jersey
Multiple media outlets have branded Mayor Cory Booker as a modern version of a superhero. Elected in 2006, the 42-year-old “super mayor” has a reputation for rolling out the red carpet when it comes to government service — from shoveling snow for a senior citizen during a snowstorm to rescuing a dog from the freezing cold and inviting residents to his home in the wake of Hurricane Sandy — all of which is chronicled on Twitter.
Booker is a digital native who uses the social media platform to not merely push out information to his more than 1.3 million followers, but also to engage with them, giving the public a personal view of government officials. “Social media creates that intimate window and gives voters a chance to really see your humanity and the substance of your spirit,” he told Government Technology last year.
The mayor also has used Twitter to take on social issues, like a high-profile challenge where Booker lived on food stamps for a week to point out the program’s inadequacies. Given his sophisticated grasp of social media, it should come as no surprise that the mayor co-created #waywire, a video-sharing site that allows citizens to democratize the news. The founders see #waywire as a platform to give a voice to the younger generation to share their views on politics, economics and other issues.
Booker says democracy isn’t a spectator sport — and he’s certainly upheld that standard, both in the virtual and real world, dreaming up ways to better serve residents and then following through on those ideas. In January, Booker ended speculation that he’d run for a U.S. Senate seat by taking the first steps toward a campaign in 2014. Perhaps the new headlines will read “Super Senator.”
Photo by Flickr/David Shankbone