PARMA, Ohio (WOIO) - The mayor of Parma is defending his city after it became the subject of criticism from a popular social media personality.
In a video debating the merits of the West Side vs. the East Side, Joey Kinsley defended the West Side. But at the end of the video, which has more than 20,000 views on Twitter, he took a jab at Parma.
"Yes, we have Parma and we will take the 'L' (loss) on that," he said.
Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter came across the post while scrolling through his own Twitter feed.
“Every once in a while I’ll do a search on Parma, (and) see what people are talking about and what’s happening in our city,” DeGeeter said. “That’s when I stumbled upon (Kinsley’s) post.”
Facing criticism is nothing new for any mayor, let alone the man who has held that office in Parma since 2012.
But this time, DeGeeter wasn’t going to let it slide.
“I had to respond,” he said.
Eventually the mayor made contact with Kinsley and exchanged direct messages, leading DeGeeter to invite Kinsley to Parma for a personal tour.
“I took a jab at the city and he welcomed me with open arms instead of jabbing back at me,” Kinsley told 19 News on the front steps of Parma City Hall. “I was like, ‘Dude, we should make a video about this, I think it’d be fun,’ ” he recalled telling his videographer.
Kinsley accepted the offer and visited Parma, a place he’d been before growing up in Cleveland.
This time, he immersed himself in the culture, even learning how to make pierogies while hearing the stories that shaped the city. By the time he released his next video, Kinsley’s opinion had changed.
“I was wrong. Parma is awesome,” he said in a new post.
A negative social media moment turned positive.
“Normally, a lot of times when you see something on (Twitter), you just kind of swipe away and move on, but this one I wanted to engage with,” said Mayor DeGeeter. “We changed someone’s mind on Parma. That’s what’s great about social media.”
DeGeeter said he and his office have had to refute comments that the city paid Kinsley for the promotional video, that both men acknowledge has been mutually beneficial. The city is thrilled with the free positive publicity, while Kinsley grows his own personal following.
At the end of the day, Kinsley said he left Parma with a renewed appreciation.
"Amazing people, amazing food. I had a blast," he said.
Kinsley said he's interested in putting a spotlight on other communities in Northeast Ohio; Mayor DeGeeter said he's working with Kinsley to help get the ball rolling.