There is actually something new coming to the election process this year: A virtual candidate forum.
During the last council race, Sustainable Redwood City (SRC) sponsored a live forum at Tapestry Church in downtown Redwood City. As with most forums, turn out was rather low and most of the people attending were family members and friends of the candidates. The event ran for two hours. The twist for the event was that SRC streamed the entire event on a video streaming, adding another 20 people to the audience who watched at home.
However, the video stream was archived and almost 500 more people watched the entire event over the three weeks it stayed up and close to 700 more watched portions of it, making it the most well attended candidate forum ever. SRC realized something was to be learned by the experience and this year, so we decided to do the entire event with online video.
The project is wholly funded by Footwasher Media (www.footwashermedia.com), and me!Box Media Inc. (www.meboxmedia.com) an online video technology company with a unique technology allowing audience interaction with the recorded event. Viewers will be able to contact the candidates directly on their social media sites that will be linked to their sections of the forum.
We looked into the possibility of sharing the sponsorships with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and SAMCAR, but the concept made them a little dizzy. The idea is rather out of the box and even the candidates had to make some effort to wrap their heads around the idea," he explained.
Beyond the technology, the format of the forum is very different from the live events. There are no opening or closing statements. The candidates are videoed individually in venues they choose. Each candidate 7 minutes to "put some meat" on the issues they lay out in their campaign material and websites, directed in conversation with me as the moderator. Each session is shot in one take without a script just as it would be in a live forum. There are no do-overs.
The forum will reside on my blog (www.localmotive.blogspot.com) and links to the entire program will be put up on the Redwood City-Woodside Patch, The Redwood City Spectrum, the SRC Facebook Page initially. We're still waiting to hear from other media who might want to post it. We' re also encouraging candidates to provide links as well.
We have not received full participation by the candidates, however. James Han declined to participate and Corrin Rankin has not responded to requests. Links to their sites will be included in the forum, even without their active participation.
Welcome to politics in the 21st century.