Mondays with the mayor

Aspen Mayor Torre posted the first of his “Mondays With The Mayor” series to social media this week. Torre says he is trying out the medium as a way to add accessibility to the city’s legislative agenda.

The first online broadcast of “Mondays with the Mayor” debuted on Instagram and Facebook this week. Aspen Mayor Torre took to his social media accounts to give a one-minute update of the city council’s activities and preview the upcoming work sessions for the week.

Torre filmed the clip from within his city hall office, where he holds office hours open to the public on Mondays at noon.

“That’s right, open office hours and your social media update right here,” Torre states in the video.

He hits on the new gun ordinance passed by Aspen City Council, invites viewers to the upcoming budget sessions to “see where their city dollars are going” and previews upcoming topics of discussion.

“Potential housing out at the U.S. Forest Service property at the entrance to Aspen? It’s a possibility!” Torre said. 

The video has more than 600 views, and online comments are praising the move.

“I’m so glad I voted for you,” wrote one commenter. “This is great,” wrote another, and a third exclaimed, “Let’s go Torre!”

The mayor called the foray into the weekly updates a test run in terms of content and delivery. He said it could expand to a semi-weekly presentation, or its own YouTube or Vimeo channel.

Torre used social media throughout his spring campaign for mayor. His campaign manager, Oliver Sharpe, is helping to produce the clips.

Torre said he is being careful about using the modern communication tool in office, though.

“When it comes to social media as an outlet, I have my reservations because it’s often times either a one-sided conversation or it is two-sided, but lacks communication,” he said.

The video uses the city of Aspen logo at the end and provides Torre’s email address for viewers to connect with him. He pointed out that the content is not representative of the government as a whole.

“I’m careful about the message that I put out and that it doesn't represent council necessarily and that it doesn’t represent the city necessarily,” Torre said. “It is my own words. And so the content is going to take shape based on what I think is most effective to be shared through that medium.”

He said the reactions so far have all been appreciative, though “there were mixed reviews about my beard and how gray it is now,” he laughed.

The city of Aspen hired a new communications director this summer to work on outreach initiatives and public engagement, but the city communications department is not involved in Torre’s new outreach efforts.

“The top three intitiatives for us are about communication, outreach and public engagement. I’m really happy with where the city is going in that direction. This is different in the sense that this is personal,” Torre said.

Torre joins councilmembers Skippy Mesirow and Ann Mullins in entering into the world of digital updates.

Mesirow relied heavily on social media during the campaign for his seat this spring. He has continued to post stream-of-consciousness thoughts on policy issues, live videos of council meetings, and this week presented a seven-minute rundown of his “ballot guide” pertaining to next week’s election.

“There are several important things on this ballot, especially if you have kids or might ever have kids going to school, or if you might get sick one day and go to the hospital,” Mesirow said. “This is where and why I have settled, but any decision is or different opinion is fine, just make sure that you vote.”

Mullins, who is in her second term as a city councilmember, sends out a regular newsletter through an email listserv. The content is similar to Torre’s update, focusing on recent decisions by the council, upcoming agenda items and updates from the various other boards she sits on.

The newsletter is titled “At the Council Table” and often includes photos from life around town. It promotes community events, such as this week’s Boo Bash as the Aspen Fire Station.

Torre concluded his debut social-media update with a nod to the notorious local’s night out.

“Lastly I just want to say, everybody have a safe and happy Halloween this Thursday.”

Alycin Bektesh is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at Alycin@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @alycinwonder.