by Greg Kohn
When Takoma Park residents of Ward 3 vote for a councilmember in November, they will choose between three candidates whose ages range a remarkable four decades, pitting a member of the “Twitter” generation against two opponents who grew up before home computers.
The age of the candidates is affecting what they can list under experience and what perspectives they bring, but above all it changes how they deliver this message to the voters. While all the candidates have a website, only Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum, 29, has spread his campaign to social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
“I considered Facebook, but I can barely handle all the emails,” said Kay Daniels-Cohen, 69 and the oldest candidate. “I don’t think those sites are necessary with this audience, but I could be wrong. There isn’t anything I’m not willing to learn, and if elected I’ll use those tools to reach out for participation from youths in the community.”
Noel-Nosbaum has tweeted 28 times since his first post on Oct. 7, but only has three followers on Twitter and five “likes” on his Facebook page as of Nov. 5. Regardless of the numbers, he places value on the ability to setup social media pages. “I have a grasp of technology that I think the council and the city government lacks,” Noel-Nosbaum said. “I think I could help the city improve its use of technology to make it more efficient and transparent.”
Mike Graul, 59, is the third candidate. All three candidates have lived in Takoma Park for several decades, and both Daniels-Cohen and Noel-Nosbaum grew up there.
“The most important thing my age brings is experience,” Daniels-Cohen said. A member of several city committees, the former chair of the recreation committee, and the president of the SS Carroll Neighborhood Association, Daniels-Cohen’s representational history extends back to University of Maryland-College Park Student Government Association in the 1960s.
But Daniels-Cohen emphasized that the political tumults that occurred before Noel-Nosbaum was born influence the way she thinks now. “So many moments in life – the Kent State shootings in 1970 for example – just make you stop and affect the way you live,” Daniels-Cohen said. “All those moments make me a wiser person.”
Noel-Nosbaum is not shying away from his age, however; in fact, he is running his campaign on youth. “I look forward to being a generational bridge on the council in a town many young residents are leaving,” he wrote on his campaign website. “My youth is a good perspective to bring.”
One aspect of his age, Noel-Nosbaum notes, is that he is a renter, not a homeowner. If elected, he would be the only such person on the council. “This is another good perspective in a city with as many renters and tenants as ours,” Noel-Nosbaum said.