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Candidate DaJuan Gay speaks during the meeting. The three candidates for alderman in Annapolis Ward 6, write in DaJuan Gay, Democrat Yiannes Kacoyianni and Republican George Gallagher meet with editors and reporters of The Capital in the newsroom.
Candidate DaJuan Gay speaks during the meeting. The three candidates for alderman in Annapolis Ward 6, write in DaJuan Gay, Democrat Yiannes Kacoyianni and Republican George Gallagher meet with editors and reporters of The Capital in the newsroom. (Paul W. Gillespie / Capital Gaze / BSMG)

It’s no secret that Alderman Dajuan Gay was frustrated with the city’s approach to regulating short-term rentals. The Ward 6 Democrat made those feelings known at several council meetings.

But for 1,425 of his private Instagram followers, they know in even greater detail Gay’s thoughts on the legislation which include calling it complaints about “rich people problems." Prior to the start of a different meeting, Gay posted “Meeting < Game" alongside a picture of an NFL football game.

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Social media is key for political figures as they try to relate to their constituents or in some cases announce policy. Gay said his posts on the short-term rental legislation were not intended to ridicule anyone’s stance on the issue and said he made his views known at the meeting in addition to posting them online.

“I said that I thought that was an isolated conversation to the downtown area,” Gay said of O-26-19. "I’ve also stated that I wished the residents in my ward, in particular, had the luxury of complaining who their neighbor would be.”

After 8:30 p.m., during the Nov. 18 meeting’s public comment period, Gay posted a photo to Instagram from the dais, according to a screenshot of the photo obtained by The Capital. The Capital does not have access to Gay’s private Instagram.

The caption read: “Complaining about rich people problems," a reference to the legislation meant to regulate properties that are predominantly located in the city’s wealthy neighborhoods.

Three Instagram posts made by Alderman DaJuan Gay, D-Ward 6, during an Annapolis City Council meeting Nov.18 and ahead of a Planning Commission meeting Nov. 14. Gay has defending the posts saying they aren’t anything he hasn’t said publicly.
Three Instagram posts made by Alderman DaJuan Gay, D-Ward 6, during an Annapolis City Council meeting Nov.18 and ahead of a Planning Commission meeting Nov. 14. Gay has defending the posts saying they aren’t anything he hasn’t said publicly. (Courtesy Photo)

Just prior to Gay’s post, several residents spoke in favor of the amended legislation, which would allow property owners to live outside the city while still operating a short-term rental. Others criticized the bill for not doing enough to preserve the character of the community.

Roughly three hours after his first post — the meeting then in its fifth hour — the council was deep in debate about one of nearly 30 amendments. Gay posted another photo around 11:30 p.m. with the caption, “You have got to be kidding me."

Gay said he was expressing the fact that it was nearly midnight and the council was still discussing the legislation.

“It was just like, it was 11:29 pm and we are still on this issue,” Gay said, adding, "I think that if I wanted to hide anything or stay out of trouble I would’ve veered clear of posting in the public eye. I guess I made a mistake. That’s fine. I don’t do anything on the job that I don’t think is unnecessary.”

Mayor Gavin Buckley said he welcomes Gay’s strong views on the legislation, but he must be careful what he posts.

“He’s learning the job like we all are,” Buckley said. “We have to sort of watch what we say sometimes because we’re so much in the public eye but it all comes from a good place. He’s a passionate guy who came from a background of standing up to the establishment. I think that’s great when he voices that opinion because we need that voice in the city.”

Gay is likely the only member of the council who posts on social during a council meeting. A review found that just four members of the council operate Instagram accounts: Buckley, Council members Elly Tierney, D-Ward 1; Rob Savidge, D-Ward 7; and Gay.

Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles, D-Ward 3, said she doesn’t use social media at all. Savidge said he only uses it for constituent organizing.

On Nov. 14, Gay also posted a photo of himself sitting at the back of a planning commission meeting with his laptop open, streaming an NFL game with the caption “Meeting < Game.” Gay confirmed it was him in the photo and said he was watching the game while waiting for the planning commission meeting to start.

The photo didn’t impact his work in the meeting and was “five seconds of my night,” Gay said.

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“I guess this one of those things where you learn. I’m also the youngest one there by like 40 years so I’m sure no one else is posting anything or engaging with any of their constituency online,” Gay said. “Some can view it as a negative, that’s completely fine. I’m just disappointed that anyone would view that as negative.”

Former Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides follows Gay on Instagram but declined to comment directly on his posts because he didn’t see them.

“Generally, as an elected official you are held to a higher standard,” Pantelides said. “You are elected to represent everyone even though you don’t agree with their point of view.”

The council is in need of a young voice, Buckley said.

“Decisions are being made by people my age for a generation and some of us are not going to be around,” he said. “So, having a young person at the table is essential to the city. For young people, if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu.”

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