Katz seat seekers hit the Internet for votes

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“Petitioning success!” one online status proclaims.

“On the ballot,” a tweet says.

“We need affordable housing,” another update reads.

From Facebook to Twitter, candidates running for City Councilwoman Melinda Katz’s (D-Forest Hills) seat are using a variety of new media to get their message out to voters.

Katz’s seat represents the 29th District, which includes Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and parts of Richmond Hill, Maspeth and Elmhurst.

That first proclamation of petitioning success came from Heidi Harrison Chain’s Facebook account, which has 38 supporters and links to articles about Chain and the Democratic candidate’s campaign Web site.

Most recently, Chain launched a series of podcasts, including one from Aug. 5 that addresses constituent service. In a 60-second blurb, Chain tells listeners that, if elected, her motto would be “how can we help” and that she plans on having a constituent hotline open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“This is a great new way, a more interesting way, to reach people,” Chain said of her podcasts. “We could really have a way to explain to the voters what we’re thinking.”

Other candidates vying for Katz’s seat also have said new media has helped them get out their message to an audience they may have otherwise missed had it not been for Facebook or e-mail.

Mel Gagarin, a Democrat who let his 25 followers on Twitter know he was “on the ballot” after his petition signatures were accepted, also told those reading his account that he broke into a “sweat going from door to door” to speak with voters.

“We’re using Facebook and MySpace, though not as much as Facebook,” said Gagarin, a Democrat. “Facebook is a lot more user friendly. We have a Twitter account we’ll be using more heavily, and we have a couple of videos we’ve put up on the Web site and Facebook to reach a broader audience.”

Lynn Schulman, a Democrat, does not have a Twitter account, but uses Facebook, where she posts links to articles written about her campaign and includes status updates,such as “we need more affordable housing.”

Schulman set aside an area on her Facebook account where individuals can participate in a discussion on health care, education and affordable housing. The candidate said she wants to have a Web-friendly office if elected, and in a previous interview Schulman said she wanted to do a “State of the District” address and post it on the Web.

Lilianna Zulunova, Albert Cohen’s campaign manager, said they have had success in sparking interest among younger voters with their Facebook account.

“We’ve had a lot of people between the ages of 18 and 29 contacting us because they saw the Facebook page,” Zulunova said.

Karen Koslowitz, a Democrat who also has a Facebook and Twitter account — with one tweet that links to her main campaign Web site — said this week that technology upgrades were needed in the NYPD. Koslowitz said in a press release that she wanted to establish a high-speed data network for first responders.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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