I think its pretty obvious that I continue to want more transparency in state government (On-The-Record Voting, Campaign Finance Reform, Earmark Reform, etc) but I’m just wondering when more elected officials will realize that voters want it too.
In this day and age (when you can sit on the beach with a mobile phone or wireless laptop and email someone on the other side of the world in literally seconds), constituents demand and deserve to know “what’s going on?”
I think we’ll ultimately fix the flawed rules change the House just passed but let’s talk about how elected officials and voters can stay in touch on a more frequent basis.
I’ve only been an elected official for four years now but when I started my campaign, I knew I needed a website. At the time, the site was basically like an Atari 2600 in the world of websites. Nonetheless, it helped me get my message to the voters, allowed the voters a way to contact me 24 hours a day, and well, let’s be honest – it was inexpensive. ( You know how much a tightwad I am. Plus, the constituent surveys, issue pieces, constituent service-night invitations, etc. all cost lots of money AND I’m not even mentioning the costs to campaign when elections are upon us).
About two years ago, Wes Donehue approached me about improving my site. I’m glad I decided to finally upgrade and basically turned in my Atari 2600 for let’s say an Xbox of a site. It allowed me an even better way to communicate with my constituents through regular blog postings, videos AND enhanced ways for my constituents here in the District (and our state) to contact me for help, suggestions, ideas and support.
Wes had pushed me to “Twitter” over a year ago but, like most non-tech-savvy folks, I said (a) I don’t know how and (b) I asked WHY should I? I finally found out why. Not only do I get to know my constituents on a more personal level, they get to know me better as well. Inside and outside politics.
Then it was Facebook. Again, I thought it a little “stalkeresque” and definitely “Big Brother” but….it is also another way of staying in touch with voters.
If this past election cycle taught us anything it’s that there are thousands of voters that would not be “dialed-in” to politics without the web. Heck, I’m even reading reports that newspapers and other main-stream-media outlets are taking bit hits because readership/viewership is down while people continue to stay informed through other channels.
All this said, nothing trumps the best way of keeping voters informed, the face-to-face conversations at church, grocery store, ballfields, HomeOwnersAssociation meetings, etc.
In 2008 (with 2009 around the corner), if an elected official isn’t allowing his/her constituents “ultimate transparency”, they need to reconsider. Yes, it’s difficult to keep it all going – updating, communicating…while also working your paying job and family life but…if an elected official truly wants to represent you, he/she needs to stay in touch constantly – not just at election time!
Here are the other House Members that apparently believe in transparency too.
Jeff Duncan: Blog. Facebook. Co-sponsor of transparency bill in House.
Gary Simrill: Facebook. Co-sponsor of transparency bill in House.
Ted Pitts: Facebook. Co-sponsor of transparency bill in House.
Tommy Stringer: Facebook. Co-sponsor of transparency bill in House.
Wendy Nanney: Facebook. Co-sponsor of transparency bill in House.
(Note: I listed those folks who have at least “two transparent things” I’m aware of: blog, twitter, facebook, or co-sponsorship of transparency bills. If I have left out any, please let me know.)