Blakely McHugh

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Phoenix Councilman DiCiccio blocks constituents on Twitter

PHOENIX – Some Arizona residents have been blocked from the Twitter page of Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who is running for re-election.

Laurie Nerat, a constituent who lives in District 6, said she felt blindsided by the action.

“My biggest initial reaction was complete shock, and then I was like, ‘this is really not OK,’” she said.

“I don’t even know why because I’ve never tweeted to or about him ever,” Nerat said. “I tweeted a couple of things in support of his opponent but they were, ‘oh yay this person is running,’ so I was really surprised when I went online and saw that I was blocked,” Nerat said.

DiCiccio, through his campaign manager and council office, declined repeated requests for comment. DiCiccio is running for a fourth term in the district, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills, Biltmore and portions of east Phoenix.

His opponent, Banner Health executive Kevin Patterson, said he is upset DiCiccio has blocked constituents.

“I find it really disrespectful that he has blocked me, but when I talked to the people in the community this morning, those that he also blocked, I actually view it as very childish,’ “ Patterson said. A third candidate dropped out of the race last month.

The change in public officials’ social media behavior trickles down from the highest office in the land, political consultant Doug Cole said.

“Donald Trump has made blocking people on social media OK,” said Cole of Highground Public Affairs. “We still don’t know the downstream effect because it’s too new,” Cole said.

Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar has blocked people on his social media feed. Last week, on his Facebook page , he posted a three-part series explaining he doesn’t care if people are upset.

“My Facebook, my property,” he posted.

A Pew Research Center survey ahead of the November election found social media users feel political conversations are 49 percent more angry, 53 percent less respectful and 49 percent less civil.

Cole said some blocking is merited, especially if someone harasses a public official, isn’t a constituent or is creating “noise.”

Nerat said as a constituent she has the right to hear from her councilman.

“He was elected by and is paid by the residents of the city of Phoenix, of this district, and so we should have access to the information that he’s sharing,” Nerat said.

Laurie Nerat, who lives in District 6, said constituents should have access to their elected councilman’s social media accounts. (Photo by Blakely McHugh/ Cronkite News)

Laurie Nerat, who lives in Phoenix council District 6, was surprised to learn incumbent councilman Sal DiCiccio had blocked her and others on Twitter. (Photo by Blakely McHugh/Cronkite News)

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