L.A. City Council Candidate Stephen Box Goes Where No Councilmember (Especially Opponent Tom LaBonge) Has Gone Before: The Internet
Reality-TV star Rudy Martinez isn't the only non-incumbent with a pointed plan of attack for crashing the insular tea party at L.A. City Hall next year.
L.A. City Council candidate and "avid cyclist" Stephen Box
It seems watchdog Paul Hatfield [via the Village to Village blog] has picked a new favorite in the race for City Council District 4: lean, green social-media machine (and long-time city biking advocate) Stephen Box.
Hatfield is drooling over Box's 21st-century savvy: the "Stephen Box 4 City Council" Facebook page (4! Get it??) and the "excellent, smooth-flowing" campaign website, including sound-byte chronicles of Box's conversations with concerned District 4 residents.
From there, we've also stumbled upon...
Big deal, right? It's the year 2010. An Internet outreach like Box's should be a no-brainer. But his opponent, incumbent Tom LaBonge (who's already two steps behind on the basis that no one can remember how to spell his name before it can even get to Google search) is a classic rusty-politician-in-the-digital-age FAIL.
LaBonge clunks out a half-assed Tweet about once every two weeks, and even then, they're under-140-character press releases/pats on his own back. Case in point:
Box, on the other hand, never leaves his account alone, barraging followers with updates on rad community events and local government corruption. He even wears a pair of classic yellow-tinted hippie glasses in his user pic. Box may not be young (his website, especially, has the drop-shadow design eye of your average MS-DOS baby boomer), but he's certainly up-to-the-minute, and cool -- like your quirky Commie history teacher was cool. Here's a typical Tweet:
Now, if only we could get L.A. twenty- and thirtysomethings -- the constituents who might actually stumble upon all the shit Box is Web-tentacling -- to give a hoot about their city council. We doubt half of them even know what that is. And in a district that includes parts of North Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Universal Studios -- even the Hollywood sign, woot woot -- the popular support of the Facebook generation could be a giant leg-up.
Especially since LaBonge doesn't exactly have the old-war-vet demographic on lock. (Neither does Box, actually: The veterans have chosen a third District 4 candidate, Tom O'Grady, as their fave. O'Grady quickly kissed ass right back.)
You know a councilmember's out of touch when the website of political sabertooth Phil Jennerjahn, a former Mayor Sam snarks-o who has taken it upon himself to ruin LaBonge's political career, comes up before anything the councilmember himself has created. (Of course, Jennerjahn is also running for the District 4 seat. Not that there's any chance of that happening, killer SEO aside.)
Los Angeles Magazine As close as District 4 Councilmember Tom LaBonge will ever get to his constituents
Neighborhood Councilmember and CityWatch critic Jack Humphreville only has one complaint about Box:
"[He] did a fantastic job during Measure B: web site, Facebook, Twitter, the speakers bureau, and organizational skills," Humphreville said in a statement to various L.A. media. "His biggest problem is that he may be too honest and direct."
Well, shit! We'll take that problem over a million-dollar pension and the same old heap of empty promises, special-interest bed buddies and robotic voting patterns any day.
And seeing as Box is the only candidate with any money in the campaign bank so far with which to battle LaBonge's $52,000 -- Box has a little below $8,000, but it's something -- we're setting our sights on the Bike King and Master Tweeter as the only grassroots contender in District 4 with a sliver of a chance.
We at the Weekly are hoping he's able to throw a wrench in the re-election machine -- if only because the council really, really needs a good Tweeter on their side. Or any Tweeter at all, really.