When I ran for election to the Santa Cruz City Council for the first time in 2000, and again in 2004, I must have knocked on every door in an attempt to speak to every voter. I was privileged to receive the most votes ever in each election, and I credit it to this hands-on campaigning. Running for the State Assembly, I have tried to connect with voters in the same way, but campaigning in a much larger district requires innovative thinking. That’s one reason I am proud to be a part of the Calitics community – it gives me the chance to speak with people without a media filter and without resorting to sloganeering.
I want to share with you another innovative approach to voter communication I had the good fortune to experience. Yesterday evening, I hosted a telephone town hall for voters across the 27th district, reaching out to nearly 28,000 voters in all. We discussed issues ranging from global warming to universal healthcare. I used telephone town hall technology to speak with voters from Boulder Creek, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Santa Cruz and other parts of the district. Over 4,000 people joined me for some or all of the one hour town hall, from the comfort of their own homes.
The event was like an amalgam of a virtual house party and a radio call-in show. I began by telling the folks on the call a little bit about my background as a progressive small business person and two-time Mayor of Santa Cruz and then outlined some of the themes of my campaign, including environmental protection which was the theme of the town hall. But most of the time was dedicated to answering questions from those who called in. Callers were able to hear each other’s questions as well as my answers, as we discussed how to increase public transit and rail service in the district, preventing cuts to the education budget and creating alternative sources of energy instead of relying on fossil fuels.
This town hall – with the large number of participants – would be difficult, if not impossible, to put together in a usual venue. I look forward to participating in more once I am in the Assembly, in addition to in-person town halls, as a tool to bring the voices of voters to government. If commenters know of other innovative voter and constituent communication tools that you have used or participated in, I would love to hear from you. Thanks to Calitics for providing a similarly innovative forum and for your support of my campaign.