City Councilwoman Sandy Carmany has been a HoggsBlog reader almost since inception. To her credit, not only does she read my and other local blogs, she frequently joins in and adds to the conversation via comments. Today Sandy becomes the fourth member of our City Council to start a weblog - it is called Sandy's Place. Welcome her. She'll be a good one.
It is no secret that nearly all of our elected officials read local weblogs. They tell me it is a great way for them to get a pulse on their constituancies in a way that they might not otherwise receive. But many of them don't really get what weblogging is truly about.
When some school board member, county commissioner or city council member makes an in-person-face-to-face comment about something I have written here, I will ask them, "Why don't you start a blog of your own, or at least leave a comment below what you have read so others can know what you are thinking?" Inevitably their response goes something like this: "If I do that, I will be held accountable for my opinion,"... or... "someone might take what I have to say in the wrong way."
Well, yeah... you would be held accountable,and yeah... some might take issue with what you have to say. But isn't the reason you ran for office in the first place have something to do with gathering input and making decisions based on how public input fits into your sensibilities?
If you are one of those political types who makes up their mind before you *(see note) cast your vote and feel it is a sign of weakness to vasillate or even entertain the possibility that your original position might be wrong, then, no... you shouldn't be a blogger. As a matter of fact, you probably shouldn't be a public official, either. (*Editing by Tom - insert '...hear all sides before you...')
But, if you are sincere in your goal of actually representing the people of this community, then talk to them and hear what they have to say. And do it out in the open. Few methods of communication equal weblogs for the transparency people are longing for.
As Sandy and other blogging elected officials hopefully understand; weblogs are a great sounding board for ideas, thoughts, and positions on issues that can profoundly affect our community. Here, in front of God and everybody, they can state their case, ask our opinion, give us their take, respond to the vitriol as well as the reasoned thinking from citizens, then... roll it all around in their mind before deciding how to vote on a particular issue.
This thing called web logging has the amazing potential to widely dissiminate the actual thinking behind political decisions with complete transparency. Use it to your advantage, or... ignore it or try to manipulate it at your peril.