Jump in at OrangePolitics, the water's fine!

I just sent the following message to all the candidates for which I have e-mail addresses. This is becoming my annual tradition of inviting candidates to come and play with us here on OP. I'm posting it here in the interest of yet more transparency.

Hello, and congratulations on your decision to stand for election in Orange County this year!  In case you are not aware of it, I'd like to introduce you to the progressive local politics blog OrangePolitics and inivte you to participate in this online community of people interested in Orange County issues. (If you already know about OP, or even are a regular contributor (or a regular critic), please excuse the generic e-mail. I thought it would be most fair to send the exact same information to all the candidates regardless of their disposition to the site.)

I started OrangePolitics in an attempt to make municipal, school, and county issues more engaging. Since 2003, we have shared breaking news, foisted both expert and novice opinions, live-blogged public meetings, hosted hot debates, influenced many a news story. Our specialty has been highlighting local problems that might otherwise be forgotten andand putting them on public agenda, but our primary goal is to get progressive Orange County residents to focus on local issues where they can really have an impact.  You can learn more about OP at <http://orangepolitics.org/about-us/>.

Each year, we post a special section of non-partisan election information, but the rest of the site is opinion-based blog entries. Thousands of local residents visit the site around election time to get more information about candidates and issues, so it's a great way to reach out to potential voters while also getting to know (and be known by) the influential activists, journalists, and community leaders who are often active on the site.

There are several ways that you can get involved on OP to promote yourself and your issues,and also help Orange County voters be better informed:

1. Participate! Create an account on the site at <http://orangepolitics.org/user/and start commenting.  You can also post blog entries without moderation at <http://orangepolitics.org/node/add/blog>, so you will have your own blog atorangepolitics.org/blog/your-name as well as a profile at orangepolitics.org/user/your-name. (Learn more at <http://orangepolitics.org/news/why-should-i-registerand<http://orangepolitics.org/news/how-do-i-get-my-post-on-the-front-page>.)

2. Add events. Post calendar items at <http://orangepolitics.org/node/add/event>. The campaign season is so busy, and there is no comprehensive list of events where voters can meet and learn about the candidates. User-contributed events are displayed at <http://orangepolitics.org/events>, and upcoming events are shown on the bottom of every page on the site.

3. Keep OP in the loop. Add me to your media list. Many candidates send announcements to local reporters, local bloggers are interested too!  We love to break news as soon it's available but will also respect any reasonable requests to embargo information for a limited time.

4. Join us at our seasonal happy hour. This spring's gathering will be at 6pm on Friday, April 16th in downtown Chapel Hill (we are awaiting confirmation of the venue). It is being organized by students to help get their peers interested in local politics, but will also be attended by the regular activists and officials that frequent OP. (You can RSVP on OP: http://orangepolitics.org/events/op-happy-hour-1 or on Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=115895288423811 or just show up!)

If enough candidates participate, I will set-up a special way to highlight you and your profiles on the site. This year I have a class of journalism students helping to cover the election, you may have seen them live-blogging candidate forums last month.

Thank you for your willingness to serve the public. I know quite well what a thankless andtiring job it is, and campaigning is as difficult as serving!  Please let me know if you have any questions about me or OrangePolitics. I look forward to seeing you on the site!

= Ruby





Questions and statements made during the forum by the three candidates running for sheriff got quite heated at times last night.

Candidate Birkhead and Sheriff Pendergrass trading blows about crime rates,

lack of cooperation between the sheriff's office and other departments in the county. Finally a huge disagreement over the need for the department to me pro-active not just reactive. Stat tuned!


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