Lewis defends social media posts about Dover issues

DOVER — Brian Lewis says he sees social media posts as just another extension of his job as a member of Dover’s City Council representing the Second District.

Brian E. Lewis

Brian E. Lewis

Councilman Lewis said social media provides an added opportunity to reach his constituents and express his ideas and get their feedback through things such as Facebook, Twitter and local newspaper opinion pages and websites.

However, Mr. Lewis says that some of his fellow councilmen are not on the same page as he is in regards to taking advantage of the opportunities that social media can present.

He did not name anyone specifically.

Mr. Lewis said he can’t imagine there are any restrictions on councilmen discussing issues on social media.

Council President Timothy Slavin could not be reached for comment on Friday.

“I have recently been criticized by some of my fellow councilmen and city staff for posting comments on my personal Facebook or commenting to news articles on media Facebook [sites],” Mr. Lewis said. “I have contacted the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) with concerns of their criticism and comments that I should not post comments pertaining to the city of Dover or certain departments.”

Richard H. Morse of the Delaware ACLU sent an email to Mr. Lewis in response to his concerns over comments he has made on social media.

Mr. Morse wrote to Mr. Lewis: “The First Amendment gives you the same right to post on Facebook that everyone else has. Other people may criticize you for what you post there and you are, of course, subject to the libel laws and such, but I am aware of no reason why your position on Dover City Council would deprive you of that right.”

Mr. Lewis has written several columns printed on the Delaware State News opinion page since he became a councilman a little more than one year ago. He has also written comments many times on stories that appear on local media websites.

He said outlets such as these provide a great forum to reach out to the community.

“Absolutely, especially matters that pertain to the city and the district that I represent,” Mr. Lewis said. “I have always been a firm believer in transparency.”

Mr. Lewis said he isn’t quite sure why anybody would object to him making his opinion known on subjects regarding the city.

“Regardless of what my fellow councilmen or staff thinks, the First Amendment is extremely important to me, especially to communicate with my constituents and anyone else who is interested or cares about city issues,” he said.

“I am sure if you ask a majority of the other council members I would suspect they are in agreement with the First Amendment.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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