Well, we were working anyway, but still, it’s the principle of the matter. We’ll get the self-congratulatory stuff out of the way first and note that the ABH has taken notice of us. We’re big time now, so when you call us, if we take your call at all, we’ll only speak to you on speakerphone.
Kidding aside, we can sum up today’s story in one sentence: Candidates use websites.
Blake also gives out some handy links to the websites of Andy Rusk, Charlie Maddox, and current Mayor Heidi Davison. (Heidi’s hasn’t been updated in three years, as Blake points out, but she’ll update it if she decides to run.)
With respect to Heidi’s website, we think it’s kind of a shame that she hasn’t kept it up while serving as Mayor. One thing to remember for any candidates or elected officials who might be reading is this. Having a campaign website is a great way to reach voters. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with your constituents. Everyday, more people are using the internets (as one politician terms it) to gather information.
In fact, it’s not a stretch at all to say that having a campaign website is par for the course now. If you really want to be cutting edge, and pull in those internet-savvy voters, then you’ve got to be blogging as well. We’re willing to bet that we won’t see much in that vein from any of our local candidates (excepting Andy Rusk, of course). It’s a shame, too. Having a free and open exchange of ideas is the heart and soul of political discourse, and responsible candidates should always be looking for new lines of communication between themselves and the electorate.
In any event, we’re biased, but we think that the internet is the greatest political tool since the town hall meeting, whether via a campaign blog, a vanilla campaign website, or through reaching out to your electorate on other blogs.
Y’see, there’s a difference between talking to the voters and talking with the voters. You can tell a lot about a candidate by the level of interactivity their website offers. You can tell even more about a candidate by how regularly they interact with voters outside of their own comfort zone on the internet. Case in point, there are four blogs in Athens alone that cover local politics pretty regularly: us, Hilary, JMac, and AthensWorld. And yet, with the exception of Andy Rusk, none of our local candidates or elected officials have bothered to weigh in on any of the big issues. It’s a mistake, in our opinion. While the number of people who read and contribute to these blogs may be small, those folks who are reading about local politics 11 months before the election are a candidate’s prime targets for volunteer recruitment, not to mention fundraising.
So here’s a Christmas present to all of our candidates out there; it’s a little free advice on how to make the internets work for you.
- Got a website yet? How frequently do you update it? Does it have a blog, and can readers post comments and questions?
- If they can, will you answer in a timely manner? You’re running for local office, you’ve got the time.
- How about those other blogs around Athens? Go visiting, introduce yourself. If they’re talking about something you’re involved in or an issue you feel strongly about, say something. Mention politely that you’re running for office, but don’t post your stump speech. Most of our readers have very finely-tuned bullshit detectors.
- Stay in touch with the folks who run those local blogs. We won’t speak for Adrian, Hilary, or JMac here, but we’re always looking for news to talk about. If it’s stuff that we aren’t recycling from the ABH, so much the better.
- Expect some disagreement, and learn to thrive on it. Folks may or may not like the fact that Andy Rusk says “bullshit.” Either way though, we’ll bet that the whole discussion drove more traffic to his website, where folks will read about his platform.
- Most importantly, keep it real.