Wondering where Rich Fitzgerald is? There's a tweet for that

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Picture this: Rich Fitzgerald, in an apron and wielding a knife, competing in a cook-off.

Or this: The Allegheny County executive getting a tour of Rosedale Technical Institute in Kennedy. And also this: Mr. Fitzgerald, his shirt sleeve rolled up, getting a flu shot at the Homewood Senior Center.

If you are on Twitter, it's easy to picture.

That's because Mr. Fitzgerald's Twitter account -- @ACE_Fitzgerald -- frequently posts pictures of him online, showing him at various events in Allegheny County.

A photo always improves a tweet about an event, whether it's a town hall meeting or a parade, Mr. Fitzgerald said this week.

"If you are doing a town hall meeting in the Mon Valley, with the backdrop of the steel mill, it reinforces what you are doing, rather than reading text," he said. "The visual is just one more tool to communicate."

Mr. Fitzgerald, who began serving as Allegheny County executive in January, is far from the first local politician to become an avid Twitter user. City Councilman Bill Peduto tweets frequently. So does Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak. And so does the account for the city of Pittsburgh, which tweets news about the city and updates from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

Nor is Mr. Fitzgerald the first Pennsylvania politician to use the social messaging service to share photos of himself at various events. Gov. Tom Corbett's office does it occasionally, and the Twitter accounts for elected officials including U.S. Reps. Tim Murphy and Jason Altmire frequently post photos of themselves at various events.

But within Allegheny County, perhaps no politician uses Twitter as Mr. Fitzgerald does, to provide photographic documentation of a day in the life of a local elected official. Several times a week -- and sometimes a few times a day -- a photo of Mr. Fitzgerald at some event gets posted to Twitter.

All credit, Mr. Fitzgerald said, goes to Amie Downs.

Ms. Downs, who is 40, is his director of communications, and on Wednesday afternoon, she was with Mr. Fitzgerald at the Fairmont Hotel, Downtown. Mr. Fitzgerald was there to speak to a group gathered for lunch before they attended a Downtown property tour.

As he spoke at a podium, Ms. Downs was off to the side of the ballroom, using her iPhone to snap a photo. She tweeted it, along with a brief description of his remarks, to Mr. Fitzgerald's more than 1,200 followers.

Occasionally, Mr. Fitzgerald said, one of his eight children will mention that they saw him at some event or meeting some person. Some of them live outside of Pittsburgh, and he'll wonder how they knew.

They'll tell him they saw it on Twitter.

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Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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