I’ve spent the past 18 months of my life running for office. In what now seems like backwards fashion, I started by running for the PA Statehouse with only one week’s notice before the filing deadline in March, 2014, to winning a race for Kennett Township Supervisor this week. It’s been like getting a graduate school education in politics, campaign finance, strategy, big data, and more.
Like any big project, it takes a village of people to get you through to the end. Everyone who helped, who was there to help me knock doors, make phone calls, help raise money, make me laugh, help with projects large and small- it all helped bring us to the result on Tuesday night, whether it was in the previous campaign or this one. I will be thanking so many people personally, but I wanted to make sure I put out a big thank you to everyone who helped – who listened to my ideas, who gave me some of their time- right away.
It’s a strange thing to make a transition from a person who volunteers to help others to ask other folks to volunteer to help you with something like an election- something that’s simultaneously a community project and a personal one. It’s humbling and touching. Losing last year wasn’t fun, but I also felt like I disappointed everyone who stood behind me and helped in what was an uphill battle. This year, when folks said things like “The only thanks I need is for you to win!” I would feel nervous about disappointing them again, while also being inspired to work as hard as possible to try to make it so. I’m glad it worked out this time, and thank you so very much for putting your faith and energy in me. It’s a win I hope we all can share together.
I also want to thank my opponent, Ted Moxon, for all the work he and his team put in. It’s not easy to work hard and feel like you end up without the reward at the end. I hope we can forge a working relationship for the betterment of the Township as a whole. I know we both have the best interests for the Township at heart.
For all of my digital friends, near and far, hopefully, this is a beginning. We use communication tools all the time, and now, we can see what we can do to help make government more responsive and more by the people and for the people than ever before.
Douglas Adams succinctly summed up attitudes toward new technologies when he wrote:
There’s a set of rules that anything that was in the world when you were born is normal and natural. Anything invented between when you were 15 and 35 is new and revolutionary and exciting, and you’ll probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.
He also stated in his radio series, “The Internet, the Last 20th Century Battleground” that:
[W]e’ve put into place the many to many form of communication, which means the world is starting to react back to us at last. What happens on the internet is what happens in real life, with the same elements of good and bad. But what about the shear speed of change? What happens to our stable life when we let everybody loose with more and more powerful computers? …
[F]eedback loops are like thermostats in a room. If the room gets a little to cold, the heat comes on. If it gets too hot, the heat goes off. … Our society is very stable and very resistant to change. And when we do change a law, we spend years, typically, debating what the consequences of it will be, and fine tuning it before we pass it. As soon as it is passed, of course, another law also comes into play, which is the Law of Unitended Consequences. Our law never works the way we think it will, but it will be at least two parliments before it gets looked at again. The feedback loop is so long and slow, its rather like a thermostat that turns the heat on or off six months after its noticed a change in temperature. No wonder we live a continual state of frustration and annoyance with the state of things.
Now imagine what will happen as more and more of the little transactions of our lives- our decisions, our business transactions, our purchases, our arguments- get conducted in close and immediate contact with each other over the medium of the internet. My belief, perhaps I should say, my hope, is that the speed of response will reitnroduce us to that from which our political systems have separated us from for so long. ie. the consequences of our own actions. Feedback loops will be the foundation of an entirely new form of electronic democracy.”
I’m hoping that we can begin to use digital tools to help people access information in useful forms, 24 x 7, and feel more engaged with government, while also seeing more direct and tangible benefit. While some functions of Government are meant to be slow and deliberate to prevent rash decisions, others can, and should, be sped up or have enhanced access. We need to make sure that residents not only have access to information, but can do so in a way where it’s digestible and useful, not always buried in bureaucracy. That may be as simple as taking a small step like adding what podcasters call “show notes” with time stamps to videos of supervisor’s meetings, so if you miss a meeting, you can catch up on issues of importance to you quickly and easily.
The new tools of communication can seem like a big shift, and it makes people nervous. But if the outcome is additional involvement, engagement, and satisfaction with the decision-making process, we’ll be moving forward. Even if the outcome is not always your own personal choice, we’ll be striking a blow for representative democracy, and helping people see a tangible benefit from their tax dollars more regularly.
I’m excited to get to work. I’m excited to get more people involved, and we’ll need the help of the community to get things done. We are so very lucky to have so many residents that do care, and are just waiting for a project or invitation to come along where they can put their skills to work. It’s going to be our job to help make that happen.
Thank you again, and let’s get to work 🙂