What CivicCamp is doing for the 2010 Calgary Municipal Election
I don’t know about you, but leading up to the 2007 Calgary municipal election I had a heck of a time finding information about candidates. Sure the big “main stream media” did a good job of covering the basics and they did a very good and detailed job of dissecting the mayoral race, but I couldn’t help but struggle in my own efforts to find out more about who was running and what they stood for. Simply a one line bio and the answer to “what’s in your CD player” was not enough for me to make an intelligent decision. I longed for more of the kind of detail I knew existed. The kind of stuff that was being put on a great 2007 election Wikipedia page (I’ve since learned was mainly updated by Grant Neufeld) and the coverage offered via the Enlightened Savage’s blog (since revealed to be Joey Oberhoffner). It was in model of these online election offerings that I first started my blog.
But more can be done and I don’t want anyone else to go through the same struggles I did. True, I’ve been lucky enough to convince the majority of bloggers with an interest in Calgary’s municipal government to get together to cross-post to CalgaryPolitics.com, but I still don’t think that’s enough to make the average potential voters’ decision making any easier.
That’s where CivicCamp comes in.
At CivicCamp I found others who felt the same way and were willing to get to work to reduce ignorance as a barrier to voting in the 2010 election. The CivicCamp Governance group (aka “Cabin”) were tasked with coming up with the 2010 election plan and have been meeting regularly for a couple of months. Today we’re ready to let you know what the plans are. (For full details please read my post on the CivicCamp website here.)
CivicCamp will “act as an honest broker” of election information. Nothing partisan, no endorsing of candidates or anything like that.
- We’ve partnered with Grant Neufeld on a project of his called CalgaryDemocracy.ca. Just as CalgaryPolitics.com will gather all the news about candidates together, this new site will gather together all the basic information on candidates you could ever want. Websites, phone numbers, Twitter usernames, Facebook Pages… all of this for every candidate, for every race, will be listed here for your one stop shop for candidate information.
- CivicCamp will undertake the most comprehensive candidate survey Calgary has ever seen. The key aspect being: we will not let our own bias determine the direction of the questions. Using the online tool Uservoice, every citizen is given the opportunity to ask a question and to vote on which questions others have suggested, that you would like candidates to answer. Yes, democracy can even be applied to the process of asking candidates questions. This will ensure the questions being asked really are what citizens are wanting answered. So go and see if you’re question is being asked. If it is, vote for it. If not, please add it. The top however many questions will be handed to candidates on nomination day when they file their paperwork. Visit civiccamp.uservoice.com to ask your questions and vote.
- The biggest and most complex undertaking during any election is organizing an all candidates forum. CivicCamp has committed to organizing one all-candidate forum for each aldermanic race and one for the mayor’s race. This is a HUGE undertaking. I don’t know any other group that has tackled such a big task in past elections, but it has to be done. The questions from the Uservoice poll will form the basis of the questions for the candidates, and the crowd will be given a chance to fill in any local holes not addressed by those questions. It will be a pretty crazy couple of weeks between nomination and election day as CivicCamp hosts a forum almost every night. A call has gone (or is about to go) out to community associations asking for donations of hall space to host these events. If you have a space or if you would like to volunteer to help out with the forums, please contact the people listed here.
- CivicCamp is also undertaking a poll of the Campers to find out what issues they think are most important. The results of that survey will be posted on their website for the public and all candidates to read.
If you’re interested in getting more involved with CivicCamp and their election activities, the next Cabin meeting is Thursday, May 20 at 7pm at Eau Claire. Please feel free to show up and volunteer to help out.
It’s my hope that these projects will help voters find out more about the candidates, and more easily, than 2007 afforded. Getting basic information and finding out what the candidates think about issues should NOT be a barrier to voting. I’m proud of the CivicCamp volunteers for doing their best to tear down that barrier.