Bringing more diversity to elected office

Sarah Horvitz

The Government We Need talks with Run for Something’s Sarah Horvitz about the changing face of local politics and how we can bring more diversity into elected office.

Topics discussed:

  • What does diversity in government look like, and what impact can it have on society?
  • How can younger candidates find opportunities to run and get elected into public office?
  • Who are the successful candidates that have gone on to serve their communities and pave the way for a more diverse and inclusive government?

Listen: How we can bring more diversity into elected office


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‘You’re More Powerful Than You Think’

Whether you’re an agitated activist frustrated with the current state of politics, a civic hacker, government technology entrepreneur or public servant trying change the foundations of democracy from inside or out, “You’re More Powerful Than You Think” is an accessible guide for helping us all rethink what it means to have power and how to obtain it.

Written by Eric Liu, “You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen” is part tutorial, part playbook, part anecdotal, part motivation. With its 9 strategies accompanied by examples from all aspects of the ideological spectrum, Liu’s book is applicable to anyone wanting to impact change who needs empowerment encouragement.

First, to embrace power, we must disassociate the negative connotations around it — i.e. “power hungry” — and accept it is a gift we give. By changing the context in which we discuss it, only then can we fully embrace giving power to others or imagine ourselves being powerful:

“When we see power as a gift, we realize we are perpetually in the position to choose when and whether we will give and to whom — and whether to throw it away or invest it. We perceive anew our own capacity to shape how others respond to us, and thus our capacity to shape the world. We recall that this capacity is ours as humans and citizens, even if circumstances have labeled us second-class humans or citizens. We see that we can remake those circumstances if we share and activate our gift wisely.”

And we must understand its nature in terms of semantics:

“If you are illiterate in power, if you cannot speak the language of who has clout and how it is exercised, you will not even realize you’ve been excluded from the question … Power is a language. It has a grammar and a syntax. It expresses our wants and needs, and is the medium by which those wants and needs are negotiated and addressed. Ignorance of that language is harmful to your aspirations and to your well-being.”

As for justification for the haves, Liu cites research that shows “with greater relative power comes greater sociopathy: more self-centeredness, increased sensitivity to affront, a sense of entitlement, a belief that high status is not just deserved, but natural, deep ignorance about people with less power, a lack of inhibition and respect for social norms.”

And for the have nots:

“People with low power … are more trusting than people with high power. Specifically, they are trusting of the people with high power. Chalk it up to wishful thinking or what psychologists call ‘motivated cognition,’ but when experimental subjects are place in low-power situations, they very much want to believe their high-power counterparts are benevolent and worthy of trust. This hopelessness — not based on any particular evidence — arises mainly out of a desire to evade the discomfort of being at the mercy of the more powerful.”

In order to realize our power potential, we have to experience it firsthand:

“But if we as citizens — and again, here I mean all who are willing to contribute — want to revive the promise of this experiment, we have to get more experience. We have to try power. We have to practice power. We have to practice making power out of thin air.”

Liu closes with a semantic perspective I’ve used many times when people outwardly despise “the government.” Liu says he started replacing “they” with “us.” As I’ve told people in these situations, “we” are “the government.”

“It forces us to admit that we are always the co-creators of the situations we don’t like. It reveals how often and how casually we otherize others. And it reminds us that we are always someone else’s they,” writes Liu.

Practicing “us” and “we” more and executing on the strategies outlined in “You’re More Powerful Than You Think,” in this digital age, any of us can become powerful. We never have to defer to others or accept that it’s unattainable.

As Liu writes, verified by the history of social movements, “it always only takes a few.”

District Match lets mission-driven organizations match addresses to elected officials in bulk

Image via District Match

Image via District Match

Azavea Product Specialist Patrick Han and Product Manager Stephanie Thome share how Cicero’s District Match app makes it easy for nonprofits to mobilize their constituents to contact their elected officials.

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

The District Match web app lets you upload spreadsheets of addresses and match them to elected officials and legislative districts in bulk.

What problem does District Match solve?

Finding information for the right elected officials is surprisingly hard, especially when you need to do it for hundreds or thousands of addresses. Manually matching your spreadsheet of constituents to their legislative districts and elected official contact information at the state, local, and federal level can take days and even weeks.

District Match automates bulk address-to-district matching in minutes instead of days. The web app also pulls from our extensive database of elected official information, which includes office addresses, emails, phone numbers, and even over 12 social media accounts per official.

With this spreadsheet of elected official and district data, you can now target outreach campaigns to the right lawmakers to scale your advocacy efforts.

What’s the story behind District Match?

Our database started as a project for a small nonprofit in Philadelphia that wanted to help its members reach their elected officials. Since then, we’ve been expanding our coverage and developing solutions for nonprofits to more easily advance their missions.

What are its key features?

District Match draws on the Cicero database, which covers legislative district and elected official data at the local, state, and federal level. Our team of data analysts and research specialists update the database daily to capture the latest election results and elected officials’ contact information. Currently, we cover 9 countries and more than 150 of the largest local municipalities and counties in the US. Here’s a link to our full data availability.

Unlike other district matching services, we match based on address-level data rather than ZIP code, which can be inaccurate given that many ZIP codes include multiple legislative districts.

The app is simple. Simply:

  1. Upload your spreadsheet of addresses.
  2. Select districts and elected officials.
  3. Receive your spreadsheet back, with each address stamped with the data you chose.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

In order to support individuals, nonprofits, and advocacy organizations with dwindling budgets, we’ve made District Match as inexpensive as possible. Pricing is based on the number of addresses matched, and the data chosen. Projects start at $25. You can use our pricing calculator to check out an estimate here: bit.ly/DMpricing

How can those interested connect with you?

The long tail of political mail

Left to right: Eric Jaye, Bergen Kenny, Danielle Winterhalter (Photo: SpeakEasy Political)

Left to right: Eric Jaye, Bergen Kenny, Danielle Winterhalter (Photo: SpeakEasy Political)

SpeakEasy Political wants to make it easier for everyone to run for elected office.

Danielle Winterhalter, SpeakEasy co-founder and director of strategic partnerships, shares how they’re addressing a fundamental aspect of lowering the barrier to entry, especially when it comes to political (snail) mail, which is still more relevant than you might think.

What’s the SpeakEasy Political elevator pitch?

Believe it or not, I’ve actually delivered this in a couple elevators – – it goes a little like this:

Speakeasy is a new tool that leverages technology to cut costs in the creation and distribution of political mail.

Our founding team is group of political consultants who were tired of seeing good candidates and causes priced out of modern elections. So, we built a platform that affords campaigns and organizations the opportunity to use professionally designed, pre-built direct mail templates – paired with their own content and data powered by the VAN & PDI – to produce targeted, persuasive messaging. On time and under budget.

SpeakEasy makes consultant-caliber communication tools affordable for small budget campaigns. By lowering the cost barriers to participation, we provide the working mom running for school board, or the small business owner interested in serving on county commission, top of the ticket resources at a price point that won’t dissuade good people from running for office.

We believe that by cutting the costs of proven voter communication tools, we can amplify the voices of candidates and causes with tights budgets and limited resources.

What’s the back story on why you started?

Our founding team came out of Storefront Political Media, a full service political consulting firm that works with democratic candidates and progressive organizations throughout California, and across the country. We loved the clients we were working with, but we were also in the position of having to turn away a lot of first-time, local candidates who didn’t have the budgets to afford the services of a consulting firm.

As the cost of running campaigns continuously increases each cycle – and as major conservative donors, like the Koch brothers, funnel their dollars into down ballot races – we realized that too many folks weren’t able to get their message to voters, and Democratic candidates and progressive causes were actively being priced out of running competitive campaigns. (Now – there will always be races that need the full court press services of firms like Storefront, but we wanted to create a tool that would help elevate local candidates and budget-conscious organizations.)

Being in San Francisco, and surrounded by the influence of Silicon Valley, Bergen Kenny – our CEO – knew there had to be a way technology could help solve this problem. After her son was born, she was making her baby announcements on  a template based invitation platform called Minted.com and thought – “why the heck don’t we do this for political mail”?

Eric Jaye, the founder and CEO of Storefront Political, helped develop the concept and thousands of hours, and one political cycle later, we’ve  had the privilege of doing work from California to North Carolina and have an established proof of concept as we look ahead to 2017.

Why is political snail mail still relevant?

Eric Jaye actually wrote a great piece in Campaigns & Elections magazine addressing this exact question. As he points out, it really comes down to a couple main proof points:

The limited reach of digital drives use of direct mail

As more campaigns adopt the precision of cookie-matched digital advertising, it’s becoming clear that direct mail is a needed companion to these programs.

Given the limited time frame of most political campaigns, even a strong digital buy only reaches about 70-80 percent of the total available audience. That means, even a well-run, adequately funded digital program might only reach a little more than half the total voter audience.

This is where direct mail can help address that oversight in reach – with mail, you can send directly to the homes of the voters you choose, and according to USPS studies, nearly 70 percent of recipients at least scan-read their mail.

Sure, a piece of mail is more expensive on a per view basis, but nothing is more costly than leaving up to half of your targeted voter universe out of your communications program.

The barrier to entry is low

Cutting a TV ad is expensive, placing a pre-roll buy is complicated, and even the best social media campaigns are managed by professionals – but as do-it-yourself direct mail services come online, it’s becoming cheaper and easier for candidates who don’t have large campaign coffers to reach voters at home.

Our clients can create their professional quality mail piece after their kids go to bed, and instead of having to make a trip to the county clerk or a call to a data vendor – they can choose their voter targets with a few clicks. We think that bringing design and voter targeting together has the power to transform the market, allowing candidates and causes to forgo consultants and run their own programs.

Especially in local races, direct mail remains a salient form of voter communications – we just want to make it more attainable for Democratic candidates and organizations.

Any inspiring examples?

We’re actually incredibly fortunate to be inspired by so many of our clients and organizational partners – we get to work with such talented folks, who are selflessly dedicated to their communities.

One great example of a pretty inspiring candidate is Amber Childress – who is here in the Bay Area. Amber has a busy professional career, but as her young son started in the Alameda School District, she wanted to apply her professional skills to the local school board as a way of being more involved in his education.

Being a working mom, Amber didn’t have dozens of hours a week to spend on the phone dialing for dollars raising the money it takes to hire a consultant to run your mail program. But, after work one day, Amber logged on to SpeakEasy, created her piece, picked her targets, and in just a few hours – we were running it through the production process.

By telling her story to voters, Amber was able to unseat a two term incumbent and won her race by just over 800 votes. I think Amber’s story is so iconic of what we’re trying to do at SpeakEasy – build a tool that allows good folks to tell their story, save their budget, and get more involved with their communities.

What’s your advice to those who want to run for elected office?

Please do it.


Running for office is intimidating, and scary, and cumbersome – but there are so many fantastic organizations and tools out there to support first time candidates. Groups like Emerge train women to run and win local office, The New American Leaders Project focuses on supporting candidates of color in their campaigns, and local labor organizations and county parties all have candidate training infrastructures to support you in your run. Or call us – we talk to folks all the time who are looking to start their campaigns. Sometimes, a thoughtful conversation about first steps is all you need to get over the intimidation hurdle – and we are more than happy to offer a little advice.

Personally, I think that one of the biggest takeaways of the 2016 election is that we must get more folks involved in the political process, at every level. In order to prevent another presidential election stacked with candidates with terribly low approval ratings – we have to start getting more people engaged in their school boards, county commissions, water boards and city councils. We need to intentionally build the bench in order to instigate greater electoral participation.

So, don’t wait for your neighbor to do it – get involved. Run. We’ll help.

How can others learn more about SpeakEasy Political?

I’m so glad you asked! To learn more, you can visit our website at www.SpeakEasyPolitical.com, connect with us on the Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or shoot me an email at danielle@speakeasypolitical.com. We also have a quick little explainer video here, if you’re curious to the mechanics of the platform.

icitizen wants you to stay informed, engaged beyond the voting booth

icitizen re-launched in January 2016 with a broader goal, to change how we communicate on civic issues, connect with our communities and “promote meaningful change.” icitizen’s Jacel Egan shares the vision for its future.

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

icitizen is a nonpartisan app where citizens promote/stay informed on issues and vote in polls sent to policymakers to create change in their communities.

What problem does icitizen solve?

We connect citizens to the information, organizations and elected representatives most relevant to them. Through icitizen, citizens easily promote and stay informed on important issues and vote in polls to create meaningful change.

Anonymous poll results and public opinion data are shared with representatives, organizations, companies and other stakeholders to inform policy. Using representative sampling based on U.S. Census targets, our polling services help policymakers drive sound, data-driven decisions.

We help strengthen community relationships, facilitate open government and support partnerships between policymakers and the people they represent.

What’s the story behind starting icitizen?

icitizen was originally founded in 2012 by Duncan Dashiff out of frustration with our current political process and the disconnect in communication between citizens and elected representatives. We envisioned a nonpartisan civic engagement app where people could find information, be heard and work together with their representatives to create an impact in their communities.

In January 2016, icitizen was relaunched with a broader vision to help citizens, representatives, candidates, organizations, schools and companies strengthen their relationships with their communities and one another.

Our mission is to transform the way people communicate on civic issues, connect with their communities and promote meaningful change.

What are its key features?

Issue Cards are created by citizens, elected representatives, organizations and icitizen. They’re posed in the form of statements and users can cast their support or opposition.

Issue Cards serve two purposes:

1) For citizens to gain support for issues they would like addressed in their community
2) For representatives and organizations to gather sentiment on a specific issue or policy

Straw Polls are created by elected representatives, organizations and icitizen to gain insight into public opinion. They’re posed in the form of questions and intended to gather sentiment from citizens on trending issues or legislative policies.

Rep/Organization Cards are profiles for elected officials, organizations, schools and companies to help them better connect with their communities. On their profiles, they have district rankings, priorities, contact information and more. In future iterations, they’ll also be home to voting records, sponsored bills, committee assignments, etc.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

icitizen will always be free for citizens. We also work with organizations, schools, elected representatives, candidates and companies to help them better connect with their communities. Through our polling services and analytics, they can receive aggregated, anonymized data and demographics on public opinion. We charge based on how detailed or targeted the data request is.

How can those interested connect with you?

If Clinton is president, she’ll expand USDS, federal open source and open data efforts

Hillary Clinton released her technology and innovation agenda that promises to expand the U.S. Digital Service and agency-specific digital teams, encourage the continued adoption of open source and open data and bring a more user-friendly approach to federal government operations.

“Hillary believes that, beyond enabling innovation and economic growth, we should look to technology and data to provide better services to the American people, and make government smarter and more effective,” states the post announcing the agenda.

Here is the excerpt of her vision for a “smarter and more innovative government”:

  • Make Government Simpler and More User Friendly: The federal government too often operates with websites designed from another era. They are too complicated, too hard to use, and rarely designed for mobile phones or tablets. After the rocky release of Healthcare.gov, the Obama Administration launched the U.S. Digital Service, with a small group of technologists in the White House and the vision of deploying small technology teams throughout federal agencies. The U.S. Digital Service is already delivering results—making it easier for students and their families to compare college options, and easier for applicants to file immigration forms. But USDS and similar programs are only in their infancy. Hillary will:
  • Make Digital Services a Permanent Priority for Federal Agencies: Hillary will make the USDS and other digital services a permanent part of the executive branch to ensure that technical innovation becomes an ongoing feature of American governance. There should be a constant flow of technology and design experts working to make it easier for Americans to get affordable health insurance, apply for student loans, or get the veterans benefits they deserve.   Hillary will expand dedicated Digital Service teams throughout federal agencies (including civil servants and outside experts), and ensure that CIOs are part of this innovation agenda. She will maintain support for other federal tech programs—18F, Innovation Fellows, and Innovation Labs—and look to them to develop a coordinated approach to tackling pressing technology problems. She will also explore ways to leverage these capabilities to help our state and local governments with their own tech issues and agencies.
  • Transform the Top 25 citizen-facing Government Services: Hillary will charge the USDS with transforming and digitizing the top 25 federal government services that directly serve citizens. For each one, the USDS would redesign them to meet the needs of citizens in the 21st century; publish detailed performance and customer service metrics, including creating a “Yelp for government” that allows for easy citizen rating; and embrace the industry best practice of continuous site improvement. Hillary will make sure that government delivers on results for citizens.
  • Eliminate Internal Barriers to Government Modernization: The federal government uses cumbersome processes for buying information technology and hiring technical experts. And it has outdated laws and rules which impose internal impediments to building modern digital services—i.e., it can take many months to make simple changes to a website or get a digital form approved. Hillary will streamline procurement processes and get rid of unnecessary internal red tape that prevents government from developing intuitive and personalized digital experience that they have come to expect from great consumer internet companies.
  • Use the Best and Most Cost Effective Technology: The federal government spends nearly $90 billion in information technology but the American taxpayer doesn’t get $90 billion in value. Hillary will make it easier for the federal government to find, try, and buy innovative technology—including open source software. She would also break large federal IT projects into smaller pieces, so it will be easier to stop projects that are over budget or failing to meet user needs, and also more feasible for small and medium-sized businesses to support public service projects.
  • Open up More Government Data for Public Uses: The Obama Administration broke new ground in making open and machine-readable the default for new government information, launching Data.gov and charging each agency with maintaining data as a valuable asset. With more accessible datasets, entrepreneurs can create new products and services, citizens can evaluate more effectively how the government does it job, researchers can look for new insights – and government can work better. Hillary will continue and accelerate the Administration’s open data initiatives, including in areas such as health care, education, and criminal justice. She would fully implement the DATA Act to make government spending more transparent and accountable to the American people, improving USASpending.gov so that Americans can more accurately see how and where their taxpayer dollars are spent. She would also bring an open data approach to regulation—making it easier for businesses to submit structured data instead of documents, and bringing greater transparency to financial and other markets so that regulators, watchdog groups, and the American people can more easily identify fraud and illegal behavior.
  • Harden Federal Networks to Improve Cybersecurity: U.S. government networks have long been subject to intrusions from hackers with various affiliations and objectives.  Hillary is committed to increasing the security of our government networks, making it harder for hackers to gain unauthorized access.  She will prioritize the enforcement of well-known cybersecurity standards, such as multi-factor authentication, as well as the mitigation of risks from known vulnerabilities.  She will encourage government agencies to consider innovative tools like bug bounty programs, modeled on the Defense Department’s recent “Hack the Pentagon” initiative, to encourage hackers to responsibly disclose vulnerabilities they discover to the government.  And she will bolster the government’s ability to test its own defenses by increasing the capacity of elite, cleared government red teams to help agencies find and fix vulnerabilities before hackers exploit them.
  • Facilitate Citizen Engagement in Government Innovation: The Obama Administration has encouraged agencies to use new approaches to improve their functions and better serve the American people. In turn, agencies are now using “incentive prizes” to uncover creative solutions from citizen solvers, Idea Labs to empower front-line employees, and flexible procurement authorities to engage startups. Hillary will champion these strategies, putting innovation at the heart of her management agenda. She will direct the members of her Cabinet to increase the number of federal employees that identify and implement new ideas from citizens and businesses to help government serve the country more effectively.
  • Use Technology to Improve Outcomes and Drive Government Accountability: Advances in data analytics, presentation, and communications have driven a transformation in how modern businesses track their performance, both internally and externally. Data-driven dashboards that present an organization’s goals and their performance against those goals are increasingly the norm, as is the open communication of this performance data to the entire organization. The Obama Administration embraced this management approach by creating performance.gov, which presents goals and progress for major government agencies. Hillary will also embrace this practice of prioritized goal setting and performance tracking for the federal government. Her agenda and priorities would be clearly articulated on performance.gov; progress against these goals would be demonstrated, using up-to-date, real time data; and issues blocking progress would be presented, along with action plans to address them. By promoting this high type of transparency and accountability, and leveraging technology to do so in a real-time manner, citizens will develop greater confidence that their government is working for their common good.

Read Clinton’s technology and innovation agenda.

Voter wants to be Tinder for politics

Photo: Voter

Photo: Voter

Voter co-founder Hunter Scarborough shares the vision and mission behind his new venture.

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

Voter is tinder for politics. Find out which 2016 candidates support the same things you do, and have a track record to back it up.

What problem does Voter solve?

Uninformed voters don’t vote, or worse, they do. Bias is present in the news and other media (82% of Americans do not trust the news media according to Gallup Poll).

Time-consuming research is currently the only alternative. According to a study by The Associated Press, the average attention span in 2015 is 8 seconds, 1 second less than a goldfish. No one has the time or patience to do their own political research. Voter turnout is at record lows (The last national election saw the lowest voter turnout in 72 years). According to Pew, 57% of 18-to-29 year olds get political news from social networking apps and nowhere else.

The stage is primed to engage millennials and younger generations on their turf.

What’s the story behind starting Voter?

Voter was founded by myself (Hunter Scarborough) and Suneil (Sonny) Nyamathi. During the 2012 presidential race, I became frustrated by how difficult it was to find political news sources I could trust. The only solution appeared to be labor-intensive personal research. Working 12+ hour days, I didn’t have the time.

During a local election in Los Angeles last year, I decided I had had enough. I looked at the wealth of raw political data becoming available, and realized there could be a much faster and more accurate way to become informed. I created the first prototype that week, and not long after, teamed up with Sonny to begin development on what would become Voter.

Fast forward several months later, and we just launched Voter in the App Store on Independence Day. :)

What are its key features?

Simply answer a few questions to find which candidates support the same things you do, and have a track record to back it up. We’ve designed an experience that is fast, fun and engaging, while the real magic happens under the hood. Our proprietary matching algorithm does all the heavy lifting, weighing millions of data points to find the perfect candidates for you.

To ensure the highest level of accuracy, we hold politicians accountable to their actions, analyzing candidates’ voting records, public agenda, personal views, speeches and more. We present this information as a percentage, describing how closely your views align with each candidate.

We have incredible partners and resources to automate the aggregation of all this data, including: GovTrack.us, the Sunlight Foundation, Google’s Civic API, OpenSecrets and Project Votesmart.

Currently, the app will match you to the presidential hopefuls who support your views, as well as political parties. We are working to add more elections, and plan to start curating local elections in Los Angeles this fall.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

Voter is free.

How can those interested connect with you?


Why the next SF mayor needs to understand open government

San Francisco mayoral candidates at SFOpen 2011, June 16. (photo by GovFresh)

San Francisco mayoral candidates at SFOpen 2011, June 16. (photo by GovFresh)

In August of 1993, San Francisco officially adopted the Sunshine Ordinance, a law that allowed any citizen to request city documents, records, filings or correspondence, attend meetings of any group that meets with the Mayor or city department heads and make any meeting of the governing bodies of certain local, state, regional and federal agencies attended by City representatives public.

We were pioneers in transparency and one of the first cities in the entire country to give our citizens this type of access to our government.

At the time, it was a revolutionary ordinance that would change the way San Franciscans engage with their representatives and inspire similar laws throughout the country.

Fast forward to 2011 where the internet has changed everything about the way we interact with our government and lead our lives.

The brick wall that used to stand between decision makers and the people they serve is eroding and there is an unprecedented level of access to our lawmakers, power brokers and elected officials.

If my parents wanted to hear from their congresswoman or supervisor when they were my age, they would have to write a letter and might wait weeks or even months for a response. In today’s world, we can post a question to an elected official on their Facebook page and hear back the same day. But in the age of Wikileaks, social media, blogging and hackathons, has our local government really caught up?

During my time as an intern in the New Media Office at the Obama White House, I oversaw weekly Facebook live chats between Senior Administration officials and the White House’s over 100,000 Facebook fans. My job was to read the questions coming in through the Facebook feed and send them on to the moderator. There was nothing more thrilling than seeing someone from their home in Ohio or Montana or California ask Ben Rhodes to explain his national security policy in Washington DC and get an answer in real time. That’s open government.

Yet despite the fact that we live in a city that is home to Twitter, Yelp, Zynga and many other leading tech companies our local government hasn’t quite caught up with the private sector we serve. Especially when it comes to using the technology available to us to keep our citizens aware and engaged and allowing them access to the inner workings of our city. That is essential if we want them to feel that they have a stake in the type of government we hope to create.

When President Obama first came into office in 2009, his administration made a commitment to transparency, participation and collaboration with with a pledge to strengthen an open government

Inspired by this effort, Luke Fretwell and Brian Purchia at GovFresh drafted a similar pledge that has already been signed by eight mayoral candidates: Joanna Rees, Phil Ting, Dennis Herrera, Leland Yee, David Chiu, Bevan Dufty, Michela Alioto-Pier, and John Avalos. Though spearheaded by a Gov 2.0 effort, the pledge recognizes that open government isn’t just about technology, as written:

“Open government is the movement to improve government by making government more transparent, participatory, collaborative, accountable, efficient, and effective. Open government will help build the public’s trust and satisfaction in government, will improve government’s delivery of services, and will create new opportunities for innovation.”

The reality is that one of the best possible ways to make government more collaborative, effective, and efficient, is to use the internet and the technologies available to our great city to create the opportunities for innovation that the pledge alludes to.

We’ve fallen behind on this effort and if we want San Francisco to be a leader in technology, it’s about time that we speed back up. The next Mayor of San Francisco will be responsible for making this a reality, so they better understand what open government means and have a plan for how we can enact it.