Today, Suki Kott and I formally launched SF Tech Dems, a new political club aimed at shaping tech policy in the SF Bay Area and throughout California. In my years of government reform advocacy, it’s become exceedingly clear that political action and influence is required to achieve the goals of the Gov 2.0 movement. Government procurement and contracting is a mess; agile innovation and open data lack policy framework; elected champions of civic technology and open government are few and far between, and politicians often give little more than lip service to principles of transparency, collaboration, participation and efficiency in government. It is essential for Gov 2.0 advocates to take on the political system in terms of one-issue advocacy.
Kott is a tech policy enthusiast familiar with campaigns and the inner workings of City Hall. She’s also in the Emerge program, which trains Democratic women to run for office – Emerge America is aiming to change this horrible statistic: the U.S. ranks 84 in the world for women in elected office, behind China and Pakistan. Other charter officers of SF Tech Dems are Jen Drake, also a campaign and City Hall veteran, as VP of Creative, and Realtor and tech and marketing organizer and blogger Jonathan Fleming as VP of Community Affairs. Brigette Hunley, chair of the California Democratic Party’s Computer & Internet Caucus is the first member of the SF Tech Dems’ Advisory Board.
“I am honored to serve on the advisory board of SF Tech Dems, San Francisco’s newest Democratic club,” Hunley said. “This new club will help the CDP Computer & Internet caucus accomplish our mission on a local level in the Bay Area.”
The CDP Internet Caucus was formed to harness the power of the internet and communication technology to further Democratic ideals, issues, and legislation; to assist Democratic Clubs and Assembly Districts; and to elect Democratic candidates, and Hunley was reelected as chair in Sacramento on Friday during the annual Democratic convention.
SF Tech Dems will raise and spend funds to ensure that civic technology, open government and Gov 2.0 ideals are well-represented on the agendas of Democratic candidates in San Francisco and California. The Tech Dems will also endorse and sponsor legislation related to technology policy and good governance. The club will seek official party charter as a San Francisco organization, and will hold its first in-person membership and fundraising drive in late May.
SF Assemblywoman Fiona Ma was instrumental to the creation of the SF Tech Dems, identifying a lack of local groups supporting the Computer & Internet Caucus.
“I am proud to support the San Francisco Tech Dems,” Ma said. “With Silicon Valley as well as the other hubs all around California, we need to do all we can to promote technology, to promote open technology, as well as encouraging people to vote and to be educated on what happens in California, how we generate revenue, how we are going to remain competitive to ensure that we can get our of our fiscal crisis. Technology is one of the keys: we are a leader, we need to remain a leader.”
(Ma photo by Charles Nguyen; Kott photos by Adriel Hampton)