Polak to host first Facebook town hall

MLA Mary Polak has hosted Twitter town halls, and is now doing one on Sept. 19 via Facebook.

In a culture which is quickly turning digital, so too are politicians. On Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 3:30 p.m., Langley MLA Mary Polak will take her Twitter Town Hall to Facebook, giving residents the chance to connect with her and discuss local issues.

Following a similar format as the Twitter Town Halls, a question or topic of discussion will be posted on Polak’s Facebook page, where residents can then post comments to which Polak will personally respond.

The subject for the inaugural session is the role the regional district should play in local land use decisions, a “hot topic” for communities south of the Fraser River, Polak said.

As far as she knows, this is the first time a B.C. member of the legislature has created a Facebook Town Hall.

“Ideally it should give the members of the community, and beyond that, the opportunity to engage on a topic that interests them, provide their opinions, ask some questions and engage more broadly with other people as well, not just me,” Polak said.

After hosting 11 Twitter Town Halls, Polak feels that using social media is a very successful way to connect with her constituents.

“It’s certainly been helpful for me,” she said. “Sometimes you’re surprised by the way in which people will react to an issue, and that is helpful to get a sense of where people are really at, not just where you think they’re at.”

It’s the modern way to communicate information, without having to use newsletters, phone calls, or door knocking that are often received negatively by residents, Polak said.

“One of the most fascinating things to me is now I’m meeting people on Twitter before I meet them in person,” she said. “I will be at a community event and somebody will come up and introduce themselves, and I don’t recognize their name, I don’t know them, and they will say ‘oh this is my Twitter handle’ and then I will know who they are.”

And for those who shy away from using social media websites, Polak encourages them to give it a try.

“If people are nervous about getting on Twitter or Facebook, I can tell you it’s relatively painless,” she said. “I quite enjoy it now and I think I get most of my news items now from Twitter before government.

“You’re in touch with a whole new world.”

To participate, add Mary Polak as a friend on Facebook and wait for the question to be posted on her page. Then hit “comment” and post your written response.

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