Case Study: I’m also a client

After living 38 years as a perfectly normal person, I decided to run for city council four years ago.

As a Web geek, I was intrigued by Howard Dean’s use of the Internet to completely transform the political fundraising landscape in 2004. The Internet did more for the cause of campaign finance reform than our legislature could accomplish. I thought there was an equally exciting opportunity to rethink political representation and constituent services using the online tools that I was developing in my day job.

The old model of government is this: You campaign, you are elected, and then you disappear somewhere, to do the work of the people. Ideally, you make decisions based upon the values you espoused during the campaign, then you emerge two to four years later to reconnect with voters.

But, what if you never disconnected? What if you maintained an ongoing dialogue with constituents? This is the experiment I conducted four years ago, and the word on street is that it was a success. My weekly email newsletter reaches nearly 20% of registered voters in my district. People are informed and engaged like never before. And, the happy side-effect of this is that I, too am more informed than my predecessors could ever be, because unlike a print newsletter, people can easily reply to me – and they do – to add information, suggest solutions they have seen elsewhere, or just set me straight on something.

I call this my email cabinet and I don’t know how anyone can do this job without one.

If you happen to live in the Ward 4 section of Pittsfield I invite to you to join the discussion at:

Mike Ward is Director of Interactive Services for Winstanley Partners; he’s related to Gregory Peck.