Get to know candidates

While another set of primaries has come and gone, we hope local voters will use the time until the general election Nov. 5 wisely.

Despite some candidates winning the nominations of a party, there victories will be moot if they lose in the general election, when every voter – not just members of a particular party – can cast their ballot for a candidate.

With that in mind, we hope people learn more about the issues in their area, and about the candidates.

Increasingly, social media is playing an important role in local political campaigns.

The recent Republican primaries for the mayor in Gloversville and Johnstown demonstrate the growing power of social media, such as Facebook.

According to unofficial voting results, Scott Jeffers, 29, won the GOP primary for mayor of Johnstown by receiving 292 votes. Coming in second was 62-year-old 3rd Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin with 231 votes. Trailing was 67-year-old local businessman Larry Razzano with 107 votes.

Jeffers was able to win the three-way primary against older candidates, at least in part, because he leveraged the power of social media more effectively. From the start, he conducted a more energetic and effective campaign, reaching out to voters in any way possible – whether in person or on Facebook.

It is similar to the campaign Dayton King, the current mayor of Gloversville, ran in 2009. King – then a political newcomer – narrowly lost the Republican primary for mayor of Gloversville, but was able to win a close victory in the general election.

On Tuesday, King was able to win the Republican and Conservative primaries for mayor in his re-election bid. Unofficial Fulton County Board of Elections results showed King garnered 435 votes, while Michael Ponticello received 372 votes and James Handy earned 133 votes. King, 34, also beat Handy 19-6 in the Conservative primary.

In the Glove Cities, the candidates who won were able to use social media to their advantage. Candidates can no longer rely on name recognition at the voting booth to win.

When candidates make themselves accessible, people have a better chance of understanding the choices.