November 24, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
59°F
test

Political newcomer promotes ideas through social media at Lorain event

Graham Veysey speaks with Namita Waghray, of Lorain, during a "Twitter Town Hall" Friday at Scorchers in Lorain. (CT photo by Chuck Humel)

Graham Veysey speaks with Namita Waghray, of Lorain, during a "Twitter Town Hall" Friday at Scorchers in Lorain. (CT photo by Chuck Humel)

LORAIN — “Politicians make all kinds of promises, then when the election is over, nothing changes. How will @grahamveysey be different?” asked one Twitter user Friday night.

Graham Veysey, who is facing U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo in the Democratic primary for the 9th District Congressional seat, held court over a spread of fried food as he answered in-person and online voter questions.

Veysey, the political newcomer and decisive underdog in the March 6 primary, hosted his third and final “Twitter Town Hall” at Scorchers in Lorain on Friday night. Open to the public, the event invited at-home Twitter users and in-person Northeast Ohio voters to grill Veysey on his candidacy. Half a dozen people came to meet the candidate in person.

The candidate was clear on his feelings toward his rivals.

“March 6 is really a referendum on Congress,” Veysey said Friday. “Their 75 combined years in Congress between them, my opponents have lost sight of what voters really need.” Veysey, 29, is banking on his youth and energy for reform to carry him to the election.

A major component of the Veysey campaign thus far has been its use of social media sites to gain further reach among his constituency.

“I think there’s a way to tell a compelling story through social media,” said Veysey’s campaign manager Jason Russell.

The campaign has focused on geting Veysey’s voice out through websites like Twitter and YouTube. Veysey, who owns the Emmy-winning video production firm North Water Partners, and who campaigned for President Barack Obama in 2008 and Democratic candidate Howard Dean in 2004, believes in the power of social media to reach users that he might not ever get to meet.

We’re trying to get Graham to reach as many people as possible,” Paul Vogelsang, press secretary for Veysey’s campaign, said last week. “With this event, we wanted people to be able to ask questions directly on Twitter and have them answered right there.”
T
he online questions focused mainly on Ohio’s economy. Veysey cited better transportation systems, investing in early childhood development and bringing information technology jobs to the Rust Belt as some of the major moves that could be made to bring the region out of an economic slump.

By “investing in the future,” Veysey said, the region could break the cycle of poverty.

A few local residents came out to question Veysey — one woman voiced concern about reproductive rights in the country, another about the inaccessibility of lawmaking to voters. Lorain City Councilman Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward, came out simply to educate himself about the third Democratic contender in the congressional race, he said.

“What I like is his youth — he represents a new generation and the choices that they will have to make about the future,” Flores said.

The heart of the discussion was held online — staffers tweeted Veysey’s responses on his Twitter feed — marking an immediacy, Veysey said, that won’t be abandoned after Election Day.

“My congressional staff will be just as quick to reply to constituent concerns as we do on Twitter,” he said. “And if a staff doesn’t know how to use Facebook or Twitter … well, they won’t be in my office.”

Contact Emily Kennedy at (440) 329-7243 or ekennedy@chroniclet.com.