Meet Mark Poloncarz, the tweeter: part political commentator, sometimes media critic and purveyor of hockey nostalgia.
If Poloncarz has projected a dry side from his Rath Building office, he is one of the few local politicians who lets his personal side show through on Twitter. He posts pictures of his trips to the zoo, provides real-time commentary from events and documents his television viewing habits.
“2000 Prez Debate on CSPAN now,” Poloncarz tweeted one Saturday in September. “I have a feeling Gore will mention a ‘lockbox’ a few times and Bush will mangle a word or 2. Good times!”
Later that night, after one follower commented on his watching reruns of presidential debates, he responded, “I am a political geek/nerd and proud to admit it :)”
And from the Democratic National Convention: “Glad to see Foo Fighters getting more than a song. Though an older attendee was a bit confused, saying these ‘Food Fighters’ are ok #DNC2012”
The serious stuff is there, too – updates on the county’s Safe Babies Sleep Campaign, re-tweets about county announcements and missives about county finances. But in an environment where politicians deploy staffers to send dispatches via social media, Poloncarz commands his own Twitter feed.
“I know my staff hates it when I go on Twitter and Facebook,” Poloncarz said. “But my goal – if I’m going to comment on something, I’m just going to tell it like it is.”
It’s one public arena where Poloncarz lets his fun side show through.
“Some of the people that I’m just meeting for the first time, even though I’ve been involved in the process for years, they don’t know Mark from Lackawanna,” Poloncarz said. “They know Mark the comptroller or Mark the county executive, but they don’t know Mark from Lackawanna, and that’s what you see sometimes on Twitter.”
Becoming county executive hasn’t changed his Twitter tone – with frequent comments on hockey games and political events running throughout his online commentary.
“Some of the Blackhawks, especially Kane and Keith, look like me in 1983: bad facial hair and a mullet. That’s a trend that should have died,” wrote Poloncarz during one hockey game in which Chicago Blackhawks Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane were playing in April 2011.
After a Sabres game this month: “Nice win by the Sabres in a shootout, though Florida’s Peter Mueller wins the best mullet of the game award.”
It’s not all sports and politics. A frank tweet on Charlotte’s convention center prompted public discussion about the condition of the county-owned facility in Buffalo.
“Downtown Charlotte is beautiful,” Poloncarz wrote while in town for the Democratic National Convention. “Its convention center is modern, bright and sleek, unlike ours, which looks like a dungeon both out and in.”
He’s also prolific. As of early Monday, the county executive had posted 4,441 tweets and attracted 2,020 followers. On Election Day – when county employees are off – he posted 43 times.
The next day he wrapped up: “… Now back to the people’s business after a day dedicated to all that is good about our democracy.”
— Denise Jewell Gee