Funnel cake, writer Albert Camus and zero rent increases for stabilized apartments this year.
All of the above were answers Mayor Bill de Blasio gave to users in an unannounced Twitter chat early Monday afternoon, where users asked his favorite dessert on beach boardwalks, his favorite writers and to describe changes to the rent law in a single tweet.
The mayor answered 10 tweets within about a half hour after, his first ever chat on the social media network.
De Blasio has previously answered questions on both as a candidate on Reddit’s popular “Ask Me Anything” forum and as mayor in a Google Hangouts video chat last year.
“Hey New Yorkers, Bill here,” the @BilldeBlasio account tweeted shortly before 1 p.m. “The first day school is coming up next week. How are you preparing?”
Two minutes later, the mayor opened the floor to questions. “Let’s use: #bdbchat,” de Blasio tweeted, after which a local reporter noted it was the same hashtag used by fans of a series of vampire novels.
The mayor didn’t break any news with his tweets, instead focusing on questions related to affordable housing, education and homelessness.
“We’re investing 1 bil over 4 yrs to keep people in their homes & working to get people off the sts & into shelters,” one mayoral tweet read.
Asked by a user about what he will do to “fix damage by the state’s damaging policies,” de Blasio tweeted his administration “moved away from over-reliance on high-stakes testing and ended the misleading grading of schools.
The Twitter session comes soon after de Blasio caught flak for telling reporters he had no plans to conduct town halls like the ones his predecessors hosted to varying degrees of success.
But Andrew Rasiej, a longtime observer of how government uses technology and co-founder of civic tech space Civic Hall, said de Blasio’s use of Twitter to have a direct conversation with New Yorkers shouldn’t surprise anyone.
“More and more elected officials are realizing the power of social media to connect and directly get feedback from constituents,” Rasiej told Metro. “De Blasio has already indicated an affinity for technology, and not just to reinvent city government.”
Hundreds of users tweeted at the mayor with the #bdbchat hashtag, including some who used the opportunity to poke at de Blasio and his policies.
“Why does my local government appear to be more concerned with topless women in Times Square than the cost of rent?” asked user @crissles.
“Mr. Mayor: Since you’ve been in office there are more homeless people & potholes. Why?” posited user @robmtaub.
And despite some frustration from reporters at the lack of a warning or heads up about the Twitter chat Monday, Rasiej noted the #bdbchat hashtag at one point trended nationally in the top 15 topics.
“It looks like it was a success,” Rasiej said.