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The Power of Communication: Candidate Forums 3/3 and 3/10

posted Feb 16, 2015, 6:21 AM by Doug Roberts   [ updated Feb 16, 2015, 6:22 AM ]

We haven't won this election yet, and we're already having a strong influence over our Village Government.  Since before I was a candidate, I have been agitating for more communication and transparency from our Village Government. Naysayers have scoffed at the notion that we can improve our service to the public by bringing more Village information to the web via social media and traditional media (i.e. the website).  Yet last week we saw a classic example of new media tools bringing about a massive upgrade in the communication between the public and those of us who serve the public (or at least, in my case, who hope to be serving in an official capacity beginning this April). 

I've been making noise for some time about the need for candidate forums. I'd be saying it if I weren't a candidate for office as well.  There is no better way for the public to make an informed choice than to have a chance to sit down in a room with all the candidates and talk through the issues.  Yet, for reasons I don't understand, nobody from the traditional media or the sitting Village administration was willing to volunteer to host or moderate a candidate forum.  Some of the candidates have seemed reticent to have these forums, or to have them go on too long, or to have too many candidate forums.  Could you imagine voting for a candidate who is not interested in spending time with voters talking about his ideas and listening to theirs? If you can, don't vote for me.

In addition to my public calls for candidate forums, I engaged in private lobbying of various media outlets and community organizations looking for both a space to host the forum and somebody to moderate, and Southold Local seemed to jump on the idea. 
Well, finally this past week, The Local announced they'd be hosting a forum on March 3 6pm at Floyd Memorial Library.  Thank you, Lisa Finn and Southold Local!  

Meanwhile, a group of Greenporters, led by Rena Wilhelm of The Weather Barn shop on Front Street, came together to offer to host a truly organic, grass-roots forum in which questions for us will be sourced online via Facebook.  This group of Greenporters will also open up the floor for questions during the forum in a town hall format.  This Forum will take place 3/10, and is currently looking for a site (Rena is working on asking The School to host it).  All of this came together online, largely on Facebook.  When I am on the Village Board, we'll continue to crowdsource input from Greenporters in this way, and we'll use these tools to proactively communicate out about important events and policies- for example, parking and shoveling rules during snow storms.  

I'm proud that this campaign helped these candidate forums come about and I'm grateful to the community members and to Southold Local for caring enough about our Village and its citizens to host them.  See you all on March 3 and March 10.