Op-Ed: Tweeting Is Great, But It Doesn’t Make Someone Mayor

As 2021 approaches, there are already multiple potential mayoral candidates who have indicated their interest in running. One of those candidates is City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who represents parts of Manhattan affected by yesterday’s electricity blackout.

While Mayor de Blasio was running for President in Iowa, Speaker Johnson took to Twitter to update his constituents with new information and retweet viral moments of people orchestrating outdoor concerts during the blackout.

Less than a year ago City and State published an interview with Speaker Johnson under the title “Is Corey Johnson already mayor?” So it should go without saying that an ambitious Speaker live Tweeting during a city emergency while the incumbent mayor is talking to cable news from Iowa led to even more people putting the words “Mayor” and “Johnson” together.

I have a lot of respect for Speaker Johnson as well as his work and leadership in the Council over the years. I don’t have respect for reporters who think that twitter is all there is to life. 

There is no doubt that Speaker Johnson has a real shot at becoming the city’s next mayor and that he should be taken as a very serious and legitimate candidate. But it shouldn’t just be for tweeting.

Tweeting new information about an emergency in your district is not a bad thing. It’s important and necessary work. Other elected officials should do the same when an emergency hits their district. But journalists who think that an active twitter account is all that people look for in a mayor are off.

New York is a city of over 8 million. The number of people following Speaker Johnson on twitter is about 40 thousand.

Just because someone is active on Twitter, even when it comes to doing good things, doesn’t mean that they are in everyone’s minds. As we have seen time and time again in election results, twitter is simply not real life. If it was, our Governor would be Cynthia Nixon and our Public Advocate Nomiki Konst. 

It may be a great place for journalists to gather, exchange ideas, procrastinate, find viral videos to write stories on, connect with elected officials and even get updates on emergencies. But it isn’t real life. And just because someone is active on that platform doesn’t mean that other New Yorkers will know who they are the next day.

Speaker Johnson did exactly what he was supposed to do: he kept his constituents informed. But reporters who rely solely on twitter activity as an indicator for who will be the city’s next chief executive are doing themselves and their readers a disservice.

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