Fourth-grade class at Lowell Elementary participates in Washington House Republican’s Twitter town hall

Yesterday, House Republicans held the first Twitter town hall of the Washington State Legislature. There was a great diversity of participants ranging from bloggers and advocacy groups to individual citizens. Possibly the most unique group of participants was an elementary class from Bellingham.

“I thought my students would enjoy having the opportunity to engage legislators and use social media,” said fourth-grade teacher Todd Hausman. “There may be changes in the requirements for instructional hours next year because of House Bill 2261. So my students brainstormed a list of 'pros' and 'cons' regarding early release days which we have every Wednesday. Then we practiced writing 'tweets'. They were already eager to participate but once the 'favorites' and 'retweets' started showing up, their enthusiasm skyrocketed. The idea that legislators were reading their questions and comments live was incredibly motivating.”

Using the hashtag #solutionsWA, House leaders Rep. Dan Kristiansen and Rep. J.T. Wilcox were able to answer 24 questions on a variety of topics in just under 45 minutes. Participants were asked to chime-in with their most important issues in order to start a discussion about solutions. While the legislators only had 140-characters to respond, the feedback about their responses was positive; like the post from Tweeter @anthony_HW who said “awesome” in reaction to a health care answer from Wilcox.

The Lowell Elementary students Tweeted about the need for learning, music and P.E. and how early release could impact their studies.

“It was really great to have fourth graders participating,” said Wilcox. “My wife is a teacher and issues surrounding education are important to me, not only as a legislator but as a husband and father. Having feedback from the kids was a great part of the experience. It's our job as elected officials to involve the public at every opportunity. This is why we use a variety of forums like Twitter. I hope the event encourages these students, and others, to engage government at an early age.”

Due to the success of the event, House Republicans are likely to hold additional Twitter town halls in the future. As they signed off, the two legislators directed people to the caucus website for more solutions and results. The web address is houserepublicans.wa.gov.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov