The Internet is proving to be a great leveler

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Fri, Jun 29, 2007, 5:55 pm  //  Site Management

Election? Campaigning going on? Gee, how did you know? Our one daily and two weekly newspapers certainly are not telling you. I don't recall such an absence of coverage just 4+ weeks to voting. I waited for this week's weeklies and the only action is in a few letters. The Herald has not even phoned some candidates to schedule the editorial board interviews. Lois Garlick, running for perhaps the most powerful office - county executive - has not been profiled three weeks after she filed for office. The Weekly's Gristle went off on a meaningless rant about fiscal responsibility that implied there was a concern but did not express what it was. The Herald pontificates about how serious this all is but does not help us. The Independent, which supposedly is committed to hard news, printed nothing this week about candidates or the election. (Disclaimer: while I own shares in the Indy, I'm no longer involved in operations or management. I'll post a more full disclaimer soon.)

Then there is the lack of forums. First one I know of is July 17. Candidates are left with only door belling and wandering about local events doing some hand shaking.

So - where does this leave us? Methinks the candidate web sites have just become the keys to this election. The candidates can inform citizens of their web sites and the sites themselves are getting more creative than previous years. I've not seen any posted podcasts yet, but they could be a super tool for communicating directly with voters. Ham Hayes was the first to post the questionnaires from special interest groups along with his answers on his web site. He politely informed a couple of the groups of his intention and they were surprised and concerned. One group asked him to leave out one question. The questions reveal starkly the self-centeredness of these groups. They are concerned with their own narrow interests at the expense of the public and community good. The questions are litmus tests. This was Ham's idea and I applaud him for it. I see that other candidates are starting to follow Ham's lead. Let the process be public - just as it should be.

You can see in the web sites what the candidates think is important - design, photos, issues, straight talk, promises, their past accomplishments or just soft talk. There is very little cost and so even campaigns with little money can create good web sites. Brochures, TV and radio ads, direct mail and yard signs are all very costly. Only powerful incumbents or well-connected candidates can afford these. The Internet is proving to be a great leveler - and this is good for democracy.

The best online candidate information is at the Whatcom Independent web site - where they post photos, info and full contact information. I hope they add all the forums there for us also. I will continue to post links to all web sites I know of - and will post information on political forums if no commercial media web site does so. This web site is a no-revenue community service and I simply do not have the leisure time to spend the hours needed making sure information on forums is correct. I will drive traffic to whomever will provide the info.

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-> Whatcom Independent
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The Internet is proving to be a great leveler

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