Aspen candidates take different approaches to social media

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times
By Tuesday afternoon, Andy Israel's Facebook post had garnered 29 likes and more than 40 comments. Israel said Tuesday that there is no sex tape and that it was a facetious attempt to spur social interaction.

Some of Aspen’s political candidates are daily users of Facebook and Twitter, constantly posting links to campaign material and events. Others post a picture or an opinion here and there. On Tuesday, a well-known social media user and candidate for Aspen City Council questioned his chances of winning after the surfacing of a “sex tape.”

“Oh no. They found my sex tape. Will you still vote for me?” Andy Israel jokingly asked his Facebook friends Tuesday morning.

By 3 p.m., the post had garnered 29 likes and more than 40 comments. Israel said Tuesday that there is no sex tape, and that it was a facetious attempt to spur social interaction.

“If people don’t think it’s funny, I think they should lighten up,” said Israel, a former money manager and certified public accountant who is making his first public office bid. “I’m taking this (race) very seriously, but my whole life doesn’t have to be serious.”

Israel has thousands of Facebook friends and more than 6,000 Twitter followers for his blog. He said his Klout score — a measurement for social media influence scored between 1 and 100 — was at 67 on Tuesday. Twitter handles for President Barack Obama and the New York Times hover around 99.

Two of Israel’s opponents for two open seats, former Mayor Mick Ireland and activist Bert Myrin, said it’s well known that Israel is an avid social-media user. While Israel might make light of using Facebook as an avenue for political purposes, Myrin is fairly active in linking articles and letters to the editor from Aspen’s two local newspapers. His posts typically include calls to action and responses to support.

On Monday, Myrin had linked an Aspen Daily News guest column written by land-use attorney Marcella Larsen, who has spoken out against the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s opposition to Referendum 1. He said Tuesday that he was turned on to social media in 2014, during his petition drive that resulted in the repeal of Ordinance 19, the controversial lodging-incentive package.

Myrin’s group had at least 55 people circulating the petition and Facebook was one of the ways the group communicated. He argued Tuesday that social media is only a part of the equation, adding that knocking on doors is what really counts. He said if Israel were to win a council seat, it wouldn’t be because of social media but because of the people he interacts with in person.

Israel said it’s quite the opposite, that his campaign is 100 percent social media and he doesn’t plan to post signs or hold roving office hours.

On Saturday, Ireland posted to Facebook condemning the chamber’s new website, which contains what he called “attacks” against supporters of Referendum 1. He said Tuesday that social media is a natural fit for Israel, but his own “shtick” is more “geeky” and “analytical” and doesn’t lend itself to Facebook.

“You just can’t post maps of Aspen saying, ‘Look this how the population is hollowing out.’ It’s just not Facebook-natural,” Ireland said. “Facebook is more about cat pictures, and I’m OK with it. It’s not where I live.”