Facebook new face of politics in Lynn

Facebook pages for the Clancy and


campaigns side-by-side.

Item photo illustration / Reba M. Saldanha

LYNN - The popular social networking site
Facebook is the newest battleground
for local politicians clamoring for the youth vote.

Both Facebook and Twitter offer instant
communication and up-to-the-minute
information about a person's whereabouts
and thoughts - a desirable tool for
both Mayor Edward J. Clancy Jr,
and candidate Judith Flanagan Kennedy,
who each signed on to the site
once used primarily by young adults.

So far, more than 600 people have signed up
as "fans" of Clancy on his Facebook site,
which can be found under the name
"Chip Clancy," while Kennedy has garnered
close to 500 fans and can be found under
the name Judy Flanagan Kennedy.

On both sites pictures, information and videos
can be viewed and fans can leave
messages of encouragement and support.

While the actual user creates most sites,
Matthew Hamill, son of Lori Hamill,
an aide to Clancy, created the mayor's site
on his own accord.

"I didn't even think about starting a site
for Chip until I was invited to become
a friend of his," said Michael Conlon,
Clancy's chief of staff.
 "And now that I'm a member of it, I monitor it
and post debates, events and pictures.

Facebook isn't the first thing that Chip thinks
of in the morning, but it's definitely a new way
to keep in touch with constituents."

To date, over 1.6 million people have joined
Facebook, including Ward 1 City Councilor Wayne Lozzi,
Ward 2 candidate Bill Cooksey, Ward 4 candidate
Gina Grandberry, Ward 5 candidate Brendan Crighton,
Councilor at Large candidate Eugene Schneeberg
and School Committee incumbent Vincent Spirito.

Aside from Lynn pols, a bevy of elected officials
in Massachusetts can be found online,
including Gov. Deval Patrick, who joined
Twitter in January and has his staff post
daily policy-oriented updates.

Thousands of politicians from around the world
can be found networking with the public
on Facebook, including French President
Nicholas Sarkozy and even
the President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez.

Kennedy's husband, Kevin, acts as
the administrator to his wife's campaign site.

Having originally joined the social site
to make waves for his band "Shuffle Mode,"
Kevin said he quickly saw the appeal
of being able to connect with
a mass amount of people for his wife's interest.

"We've gotten a lot of people interested
in ways to help out with the campaign
and we have headquarters give them a call,
or are looking for a lawn sign and
we communicate with them through email,"
he said. "
But if I'm going to write a response to something,
I'll sit down with Judy to see how
she wants it worded."

In tight financial times, Kevin noted
the financial aspect of the process, in that it
offers a free mode of communication
with the public to post upcoming events
and gather RSVPs.

Contrary to most beliefs, not all of
the people surfing the site are teenagers.

"I'm in my 40s and so is Judy and there
are really a lot of people on there that
are our age and have a vested interest
in the community," he said. "
There are kids on there that may know
my son and thought they would be
Judy's friend, but there are
a lot of people that are older."

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