Have you ever heard a story of how a weather event “brought down” a political leader? If only the leader had provided constant updates during the emergency everything might have been different.
Case in point: Elgin, IL, (pop. 111,117). On February 1, 2011, a huge blizzard hit this city north of Chicago. During the course of the two-day storm, City Manager Sean Stegall used Elgin’s social media channels to update residents on the city’s snow removal operations. He posted approximately 100 messages on Twitter and Facebook, including:
City Manager Sean Stegall here…I’m spending the night riding along with our snow command crews. I will provide updates throughout the night. Check back often.
Did you know? According to our mechanics we experience significantly less equipment breakdowns the more snow we have. Why? Because the drivers push so much snow that the plows experience less fatigue, vibrations and run into fewer curbs as they stay in the center lane. – Sean Stegall
City Manager Stegall here: We are pulling some snow plows off the road now. It is simply too dangerous. They cannot see due to white out conditions.
City Manager Stegall here: I estimate that we have destroyed at least 50 mailboxes. You have my apologies if we did and you will also be reimbursed. The drivers hate it when this happens. They take great pride in their accuracy.
City Manager Stegall here: This will be my last post for a while. At this point, the operations are humming. Please stay in touch via snow command (847) 931-5977. Thank you for all your support! Sean
Not only did Stegall’s use of social media keep residents informed, he opened the workings of government to all residents.
One resident wrote on Facebook, “Mr. Stegall, I live and have taught in Elgin for the past 20 years and have never been more impressed and proud of my city! Your posts gave us a window into your world and the inner-workings of our fine city. You sir, get a gold star!!! Tell the ‚Äòtroops’ that my students will learn of their heroic efforts.”
Another wrote: “You’ve been up all night posting and I thank you for the updates and the great job you and the crews are doing. Now go home and get some sleep. I really hope somebody will clear the snow in your driveway. If not I will do it for you. It’s the least I could do. Thanks again, you guys are the best. So glad I live in Elgin!!!”
Meet the Manager
Sean StegallCity Manager
Sean Stegall has served in municipal government for 17 years—the last 11 for the city of Elgin, where he has been city manager since 2009. He holds an MPA from Northern Illinois University and is also a graduate of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.