Bob Brownell Builds Online Presence

Republican Polk County Supervisor Bob Brownell is building a significant online presence including:

According to his Linked-In page, Brownell's interests are: homelessness, affordable housing, economic development, lead paint poisoning and bureaucracies. As a Supervisor, and as a Board Member of Neighborhood Finance Corporation, he has demonstrated his understanding that a strong urban core is critical to a healthy region.

One of my pet issues is communication, and I am heartened when local elected officials take the time to write about current local issues in a public online forum. It shows a willingness to embrace new technology, engage stakeholders, and seek opposing opinions. This type of truthful engagement has, for the most part, been abandoned over years of partisan bickering.

All Politics are Local
I'm not entirely sure why the County Supervisor positions are partisan, other than to serve as a local organizing base for the national parties. Indeed, as a strong George Bush supporter in 2000 and Huckabee supporter in 2008, Brownell says that he "has worked hard to elect other Republicans". According to his web site, he has also contributed $4,000 from his re-election campaign war chest to the county Republican party.

Don't get me wrong. As a progressive Democrat, I fundamentally oppose most of the Republican Party platform including the Bush administration's mortgaging our next generation's future to pay for an ill conceived and horribly managed war in Iraq, abandonment of basic civil rights such as habeas corpus and illegal search and seizure (warrantless wiretapping), flawed energy policy, the list goes on and on.... Technically, these policies tend to displease conservatives as much as progressives, and Brownell doesn't much discuss national politics on his web sites. [UPDATE: some of the recent posts have dealt with national politics].

One could theoretically extrapolate general themes (conservative versus progressive) from the major party Platforms down to the local level. Yet there really isn't much of a direct relationship between national politics and the local budgeting, planning, and decision-making that goes on at the Polk County Board of Supervisors. Bob Brownell has been a leader on many positive urban initiatives such as the Science Center, Asian, Italian and Latino Festivals, the Riverwalk, and street improvements in Highland Park and Ingersoll. These are not partisan politics. Rather, they are local quality of life items that just make sense.

I applaud Bob Brownell's communication strategy. I encourage him to blog frequently and continue building a comprehensive strategy of open online communication with his constituents.