We don’t ask for much here at City Paper. We’re satisfied enough with reasonably prompt callbacks from sources, the occasional tip, and a councilmember with a vibrant social media presence. Things aren’t going well in that last category. Since we have to spend a lot of time tracking our local elected officials, we decided to grade them on their social media skills, handing out points for things like authenticity and animal photos, while detracting for boring pics of Council hearings, excessive event announcements, and wide-brimmed hats.
Trayon White (Ward 8): A
Trayon White posts videos from the Council dais and from the driver’s seat of his car. He goes live from the scene of an emergency in Ward 8, throws up photos of himself parasailing in Mexico, and records his staffer fishing a cheesecake out of the trash can. Although his obsessive posting has gotten him into trouble, no one can compete with White’s social media prowess. His Facebook profile still says he’s the State Board of Education rep, but we’ll let that one slide—he always has just under the maximum 5,000 friends.
Robert White (At-Large): B-
This much we know about Robert White from his social media accounts: He shakes a lot of hands, and he loves his daughter, his wife, and his city. In between snoozy Council posts, this month White posted about several influential African-Americans. Points for making us think—more of that please, less of that wide-brimmed hat.
Charles Allen (Ward 6): C+
He’s usually in a suit, often using a microphone, sometimes riding a bike. Yawn. Don’t think we haven’t taken note of all the Post articles on your Facebook timeline, Councilmember. His Instagram is slightly better than those of his colleagues, but it’s a low bar.
Anita Bonds (At-Large): D
Bonds uses social media like a grandma. She’ll congratulate you, she’ll offer condolences, she’ll wish you happy birthday, and she’ll invite you to watch Council meetings. Bonds’ Twitter lens offers a pretty rosy view. Except that one time she replied “Unbelievable, yet again,” to a tweet about a D.C. Auditor report on education funding. To which @20003ist replied: “Then do something Anita!!!” Also: perhaps the most boring Instagram of the bunch.
Phil Mendelson (Chair): C-
Mostly photos of Mendelson in a suit and tie, standing behind a lectern or outside wearing a hat. But hang in there long enough, and you’ll find a gem—such as photos of his new kitten. Her name is Luna, and she’s the “sweetest little kitten.” The chairman also joined Instagram a few weeks ago. We’re not optimistic. He has just over 100 followers so far. Trayon White has 26,000.
Elissa Silverman (At-Large): C
Silverman’s Twitter is only slightly more interesting than the others. Lots of cat photos, but we award her no points for listening to Journey while reading an economic impact study. Her Instagram has no posts. But her Facebook profile pic of her and Mayor Marion Barry doesn’t hurt.
Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1): C-
Follow Nadeau’s Twitter and Facebook if you want to see her councilmembering or moming. Sometimes she’s doing both at once. There are two Instagram accounts attached to her name. One is sloppy and confusing. The other has no posts.
Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5): B+
McDuffie wins bonus points for maintaining two coherent Instagram accounts—one professional and the other personal. He also gets points for sharing his daughter’s take on LeBron James landing in L.A. His Twitter and Facebook have been delivering nearly daily content about Ward 5 black history during Black History Month, a major plus.
Mary Cheh (Ward 3): C
It’s been six years since Cheh last ’grammed, while her Twitter feed is standard fare for ward pols. Facebook posts about community events are useful but devoid of personality. Thank you for the photo of your first grandchild, but give us your bicycle commute rants!
David Grosso (At-Large): C
Just because the “Tweet all” option for Twitter threads exists, Grosso should know that doesn’t mean you have to use it. Even councilmembers should manually thread tweets, unless they enjoy spamming everyone’s timeline at once. Grosso does win points for Instagram pictures of his dog Diego, something lacking on his Facebook page.
Jack Evans (Ward 2): B
Evans shines on Instagram by staying on brand, maintaining the image of a Georgetown socialite: black ties, dinners, and trips to the yacht club. He gets points for showing us his personal life, with pictures of family and sending his kid to college. His Facebook and Twitter accounts are dull in comparison.
Brandon Todd (Ward 4): C-
Todd’s Instagram profile photo shows him valiantly shoveling snow in a Burberry scarf. His feeds are, in a word, basic—as if he read a text book on how a politician should post on social media. Todd on a city bus, Todd near a table with papers on it, Todd and a constituent holding a plaque.
Vince Gray (Ward 7): C+
Whenever Gray unsheathes his old mayoral Twitter account, something serious is up, like the continued shortage of health care east of the Anacostia River. But serious is about all you get from Gray, whose Facebook page is all official and could use more color. An Instagram post showing Gray holding court with the Citi Open’s panda mascots is a start.