As some of the most visible politicians of our time have shown us, venturing into the world of Reddit for an AMA - or, “ask me anything” - is all the rage. It connects you with the people. It displays your technological hippness. It provides would-be voters and/or constituents with the keyboard-to-keyboard access they might not otherwise have.
Yesterday, Seattle mayoral candidate Charlie Staadecker straightened his bow tie and dove headfirst into Reddit, answering questions about his candidacy and his platform. Perhaps surprisingly, the 70-year-old real estate tycoon with a penchant for antiquated neckwear fared fairly well in the intimidating domain of Redditors.
Well, for the most part ...
Staadecker kicked off his Reddit AMA by trumpeting the “Six Pillars” that guide his campaign: education, jobs, infrastructure, delivery of city services, public safety, and quality of life. From there, he answered questions that ran the gamut, from transportation, to public safety and homelessness, to the proposed SoDo arena, to inquires about where he gets his bow ties (spoiler alert: Brooks Brothers and Nordstroms).
However, not all of Staadecker’s responses - which were often vague, and included at least one Game of Thrones reference- passed the Reddit sniff test. And the Redditors didn’t hesitate to point this out.
For example, take this exchange:
Redditor menelaus_ poses the question:
“Why do you think Seattle has a cultural history of missing out on large visionary opportunities that in retrospect would have been amazing opportunities such as federally funded subways and a public park spanning SLU, etc? Why, in a city where 100% of the city’s politicians are in the same political party, do we have so much infighting?”
“It is the exact infighting that you mention that attributes to us missing out on many of these opportunities. Our elected officials often get mired down by the infighting and it is rare that we have a leader who can gather a consensus and move our City forward. As for the infighting, have you seen Game of Thrones?”
To which Redditor tipsqueal responds:
“Do you have any plans at all for addressing and potentially fixing the infighting?”
“Great question. I am running for Mayor because I believe that under the current Mayor, this city has lost its way. The root of infighting is lack of clear leadership. Walk down the street today and many people don’t even know who their current Mayor is. I am going to work hard to fix the infighting by being a leader who is ready to work with all comers, make hard decisions, and gain the respect of a majority of voters. Those are attributes of a clear leader and something our city desperately needs today.”
To which Redditor Ariwara_no_Narihira retorts:
I’ll be a better leader!
So not much of a plan here either.
And Redditor MillionDollarSticky piles onto :
“Instead of answering your question, how ‘bout this pop culture reference?”
As does Redditor rabobo:
“Follow-up, which house (or character) in Game of thrones does your candidacy most closely align with?”
As you can see, good Reddit times were had by all.
For his part, Staadekcer tells Seattle Weekly that, overall, the Reddit AMA was a positive experience, and one he’d do again if given the chance.
“It was a great experience and also very enlightening,” says Staadecker. “It did prove beneficial to my campaign and with getting my message out. Reddit is a great forum for this type of discussion because, even though it is anonymous for participants, it truly shows what that community believes is important to this city. Not everyone agreed with some of what I had to say, but I’m fine with that because a mayor needs to know how to talk to people with different views and opinions. This city needs someone willing to engage with folks who disagree with them in order to come to a consensus as to what is best for Seattle.”
In terms of the criticisms of his sometimes vague responses, Staadecker says he agrees with some of it.
“I don’t think they are wrong, and I hope that my answers later on were received as being more specific,” says Staadecker. “At first it was my intention to get to every single question, but there were so many questions that I didn’t have time. Later on, in lieu of answering every question, I thought it would be better to respond with specifics to certain questions.”
Finally, not to let the opportunity pass, Staadecker did get in a few predictable McGinn digs, like this response, when asked for specifics on what McGinn has done well and where he’s failed:
“I think he’s done a great job at learning how to be Mayor over the last 6 months. I think he failed at learning how to be Mayor over the last 3 1/2 years.”
You can read the full Reddit thread here, if this post hasn’t already soured you on the idea.