Lakeway Mayor uses fake online account to comment on election

The Mayor of Lakeway admits he used a fake name to post on the online forum Nextdoor about the City Council election taking place.

Now a candidate for City Council is calling for Mayor Joe Bain to resign.

The mayor said he created an account on Nextdoor using the name John Smart to voice his opinions about the election, but said that account has been deleted and he will no longer post anything under a fake name.

John Smart posted several times on the Nextdoor online forum saying things like, "vote for Bridge Bertram and Ron Massa they actually volunteered for the city and worked to make it better, unlike the other candidate…" It wasn't until a woman emailed Smart and he replied with his real name and city email address that everyone connected the dots.

“John Smart was actually Joe Bain,” said Tiffany McMillan who is running for City Council against two incumbents.

Bain has served Lakeway as mayor for two years and said he came up with the idea to create a fake name to post in online forums several months ago.

“I was uncomfortable with the perception that whenever I posted on a social website that it was being posted by the mayor and I wanted a way to have a way to communicate as a citizen,” Bain said.

McMillan said the mayor used his fake account to encourage people not to vote for her.

“When I initially found out about it, I was shocked and obviously concerned about what impact has he had on the election, because he was actively campaigning against  me with his fake account ,” said McMillan.

Bain has apologized for deceiving those on the forum and said he will not make the same mistake twice.

“My biggest concern is that I feel like I let down the citizens in some ways and I'm trying to correct that and make sure it doesn't happen in the future,” said Bain.

But McMillan said an apology doesn't go far enough.

“I am calling for his resignation. He has betrayed the trust of our community. He holds the highest position of power in Lakeway and he has deceived us, he has deceived the Lakeway community, he has breached his duty to the Lakeway community and he should resign,” McMillan said. 

“I don't have any intention of resigning at this point,” Bain responded.

Bain said Nextdoor cancelled his account after someone reported him for using a fake name, but he is adamant he never posted any false information.

“Let me just say that I'm still passionate about doing what's best for Lakeway and I look forward to serving the citizens and figuring out better ways to communicate,” said Bain. 

There is an online petition calling for Lakeway City Council to investigate the Mayor's actions on Nextdoor.

You can find that petition here. 

Mayor Joe Bain released the following statement: 

I would like to apologize to the citizens of Lakeway and the Lakeway community for my actions on social media.  Several months ago, I created an account on Nextdoor.com under the pseudonym of "John Smart" to communicate on social media about matters relating to city business.  Multiple times on multiple issues I posted as "John Smart", including on matters related to the current election.  that account has been closed.

My reason for doing this was because when I wrote anything as Joe Bain in these online forums, I felt my messages were perceived as representing the City of Lakeway government or office of the mayor.  I was uncomfortable with this perception because, at times, I felt the need to express my opinion as an individual and as a citizen of Lakeway without perceived bias some people have about elected officials.

I generally wrote these messages in an attempt to correct inaccurate information or post factual information in the online discussions - recently these messages included information about the proposed police facility bond and the Lakeway City Council election involving three candidates.  I asked pointed questions and advocated for candidates I support - but only as a citizen.

This was an error in judgement on my part and I regret that my actions that were not in line with the character of the City of Lakeway, its City Council or its citizens.  The citizens of Lakeway placed their trust in me to be their mayor and I understand I have violated that trust.

In an attempt to restore that trust and be fully transparent in my actions online and offline, I will no longer participate in these online discussions unless I am specifically invited to as Joe Bain, the mayor of Lakeway.  I am also working on new ways to engage and inform citizens through events that I hope will bring our community together and give our citizens a stronger voice in government. 

Ultimately this issues is a result of my attempts to communicate with the citizens of Lakeway, but I know now that I went about it the wrong way.

Please accept my humble apologies.  I promise to continue to serve you in the manner befitting the mayor of Lakeway.

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