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Politician Takes To Tinder To Ignite Voters' Interest

Greggor Ilagan, a Hawaii county councilman who is running for the state senate, decided to try to reach that vital demographic of young voters by appearing on social networking sites. And also Tinder, a dating app.

When he announced his candidacy last summer, Mr. Ilagan told local Hawaii press he would rely more on social media than campaign fund-raising to reach voters.

Greg Ilagan said on his profile page, "I bet we can find common ground on issues and make a positive impact around us."

That sounds Jeffersonian.

But he heard back from a lot of women and men who just want to find a connection.

"Most people go on Tinder because they want to meet someone in their community and be able to go on a date with them," Ilagan told NPR. "And I thought that if I talk to people and be able to meet them as friends, I'm able to gain support in my campaign and convince others to get involved in the community."

So Greg Ilagan tried to steer those conversations to the issues on which he's campaigning. He wants to extend a bus route into his district; he's opposed to a ban on genetically modified crops. If you go to his website, you might see it and think, in the nicest way, "wonk."

"What I've noticed," he said, "is that the women were very receptive in wanting to talk about the issues. And the men were more direct, so they asked me for a date, and then I'm always trying to refocus to why I started with Tinder."

For all of his social media savvy, Greggor Ilagan may have been a little naive about Tinder. It's for dating — tinder, to strike sparks — or relationships, if you prefer. But imagine if you'd gone in search of someone to share your life, or at least a weekend, and found some guy talking about the importance of extending bus routes.

There's a reason Adele doesn't sing songs about bus routes.

Greg Ilagan may have invested a lot of his campaign hopes into social media. But for the moment, he's taken up a campaign strategy that's more old style than new media.

"I decided walking door to door is the best possible option where I directly talk to the voters in person and get to know their issues," said Ilagan, "and hopefully be able to come up with a solution that could fit everyone."

What's next — politicians knocking on doors and shaking hands with voters?

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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