Friday, October 24, 2008
When it comes to e-campaigning, many of our local candidates fall short.
A few - the Voice slate, Jonathan Cote, Matthew Laird - are doing a reasonable job of leveraging the web to communicate stance on the issues.
The others who have inadequate web presences or lacking any website at all are doing both their campaigns and New West citizens a disservice.
Mass media can only communicate so much about municipal politics, due to the constraints of the form. The web, on the other hand, has the potential to provide much more detailed and localized information if leveraged appropriately.
Thankfully, for New West voters, The Vancouver Sun has stepped in to help fill the information gap. The Sun has published a municipal election database online incorporating information from civic candidates around the region about where they stand on local issues.
Here's how it breaks down in New West.
According to their survey answers, here are the key differences between mayoral incumbent Wayne Wright and rival Blair Armitage:
While Wright is running on his record as a capable, experienced manager of our city, Armitage is out to change the status quo. In particular, Armitage feels that council hasn't been responsive to citizen concerns regarding proposed developments.
- Both candidates named crime and traffic congestion in their top three issues, however Armitage also feels taxation is an issue while Wright is concerned with homelessness
- Armitage's answers are research-based, citing poll data, news reports and regional statistics to support his points; Wright's responses seem more qualitative, drawing on his experience as mayor for the last six years.
- Wright supports maintaining our local independent police force, while Armitage would like to see a consolidated Metro Vancouver police force
- Armitage strongly supports increasing development fees, while Wright is neutral on the issue
- Armitage wants to proceed with twinning the Port Mann; Wright opposes the project
- Armitage believes New West is "plagued with sprawl and poor land-use planning" while Wright disagrees
- Armitage believes government bureaucracy and inefficiency is costing taxpayers
- Armitage supports changing from an at-large election system to wards
The data should be fully indexed and easily searched/compared. It is, after all, intended to help aid comparison between candidates. It's hard to get that perspective when you must look at one at a time.
Ideally, the Sun would make the raw data available for people to parse & sort as needed to extract the information they seek. The experience as it stands is exactly like a printed pull-out voters' guide. I appreciate that it is accessible online and that the paper made the effort to compile the information, but I also can't help see it as an opportunity lost.
UPDATE: I figured if I wanted the data I better do something about it. I've published a consolidated spreadsheet online via Google Docs aggregating the info from the Sun. It's only partial - many of our candidates have not responded yet - but I will update as I see that new candidates' views are added.