| Community Technology Coalition Turns Up the Heat
on Election Candidates.
by James Lau
The Children's Partnership (TCP), along with the California Community
Technology Policy Group (CCTPG) and PolicyLink, has launched a campaign
to survey all candidates in California about community technology.
The campaign is designed to not only help voters make an educated
decision about candidates at the polls this November, but also to
help candidates learn about community technology issues and understand
what is happening in their own communities.
The candidate survey will be sent to all candidates for state office
(legislative and statewide offices) and congressional office to
determine where candidates stand on issues related to providing
access to and training technology for youth. Once the surveys have
been completed, the results will be posted at www.techpolicybank.org/whatsnew.html
for voters and all interested parties to view.
Elections of political representatives at the congressional, state
and local levels offer community technology practitioners and activists
an important opportunity to gain attention and support for their
issues and programs. This is often true during tight fiscal times
when important programs are jeopardized by budget cuts. For example,
at the federal level, Technology Opportunities Program and the Department
of Education's Community Technology Centers Program did not receive
funding in the Bush Administration's proposed federal budget, but
committed legislators and advocates have fought back to save these
programs. Similarly, in Sacramento, legislation that would have
created a grant program for community technology stalled, while
the fate of similar community technology measures remains uncertain.
However, for elected officials to be responsive and supportive
of the needs of community technology, the community needs to inform
candidates about the importance and benefits of this work and to
educate voters about where candidates stand on local technology
The survey campaign is designed so that nonprofit organizations
can make the most of this educational effort under the 501(c) 3
status. There are many ways voters and supporters of community technology
can play a role in this campaign. Candidates are offered opportunities
to learn more about community technology through briefings and a
visit to a nearby community technology program, which means an opportunity
for centers to interact with potential elected officials. Organizations
interested in hosting a visit and briefing session with the candidates
in their area can coordinate their candidate feedback via The Children's
Partnership, CCTPG, and PolicyLink.
In addition to reading about candidates' views, voters can visit
and http://www.cctpg.org to see
if the candidates in your area have responded to the survey. If
they have not, place a phone call to their office to encourage them
to fill out the surveys, since the candidates will be more responsive
to voters living in their district. By reaching the candidates early
and educating them about this issue, advocates of community technology
can be cultivated within legislative bodies.
Although this involvement in campaign activity is a first for community
technology, much can be learned from this process to refine it for
future election cycles. As awareness of this issue grows and policymakers
see both the benefits of these programs and the growing number of
active supporters who care about them, community technology issues
may gain increasing support within the policymaker circles and in
James Lau is technology program manager for The Children's Partnership.