Friday, August 12, 2011

Virigina, 2011 Democratic Primary Election - Reaching out to the candidates

The Problem

It's always been painfully obvious to me that my interest in politics is probably upside down. I can tell you about the details of the latest scuffle between Obama and McConnell, yet I can't tell you what the county board is up to, or the big issues in the state senate. I've got some hypothesis as to why this may be, but those are all besides the point. As I cruise around town, I see the signs hollering at me: there's a primary coming up in just about two weeks, and I haven't got the foggiest idea who to vote for. Or even what to base my decision on.

To the credit of the candidates, many have personally stopped by my home - but their timing isn't ever going to be right. And besides, I'm not even sure what I'd want to ask them.

In the past, I've poked around youtube for information on local candidates. But this time, I've decided to step it up a notch.

I realize I've got two big issues: (1) I don't really know enough about what I'm voting on and (2) I don't have an easy way to compare the candidates. My solution? I'm going to do, what seems obvious now: ask the candidates themselves. By asking them a standard set of questions, I'll should have at least some basis for comparison.

The Candidates

Step one is figuring out who I even need to reach out to. Of course, Arlington has a web page that helps with this. Even the process of figuring out who I'm voting for involves parsing neighborhoods, precincts, districts and other minutia. I can't imagine how tricky this would have been before I had the web to consult.

Here's who I've determined I need to reach out to:

Here's the note that I've sent to each of them:

Dear ________

My name is Ben Simon, and I'm a resident of Arlington. I'm trying to get my act together and to do some research for the 2011 primary so I can cast an intelligent vote. Would you mind taking a few minutes and filling out a quick set of questions I've sent to all candidates in the primary?

I'll be sharing the results on my blog ( to help others who may be in the same situation I'm in.

I really do appreciate any time you can spare to help me out.

PS - If you've stopped by my house and I shooed you away, it wasn't anything personal. I love it when politicians hit the streets. It's just that the timing for a conversation never seems to be right.

The Results

So now I play the waiting game. If responses do come in, they'll be found below.

If you could ask these, or other candidates, any questions what would they be? Maybe I can include them before the candidates have a chance to respond.

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