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E-Democracy.org – Project Blog

Canterbury Forum takes center stage in Christchurch, New Zealand Mayoral and other elections

Written by Steven Clift

The Canterbury Public Issues Forum membership has skyrocketed past 200. Forum Manager Dan Randow is doing a super job and has introduced a new and simple idea to the Issues Forum toolkit – a guest speaker schedule. The regular guest speakers, including candidates for Christchurch mayor have livened up the forum and attracted new participants with each topic.

They’ve generated a bit of well deserved press coverage on a few discussions, and with this press release seek to spread the word about the forum to more people before the upcoming elections.

Go Canterbury! Go New Zealand! Go e-democracy.

Steven Clift
Chair

From Dan Randow:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

** Canterbury Elections Contested in New Internet Forum **

27 September 2007, Christchurch.

Canterbury’s local government elections are being hotly contested in a new internet forum.

The Canterbury Online Public Issues Forum encourages discussions about local issues. The first of its kind in New Zealand, it is setting a new standard for public accountability in local government.

“Local election candidates including Christchurch mayoral hopefuls Megan Woods and Bob Parker, are using the Forum to debate issues such as water, traffic, and the conduct of councillors and political groupings” says Founder and Forum Manager Dan Randow.

He says the strength of the forum is that it can’t be dominated by the heavy hitters. All participants in the Forum have to play by the same rules. No-one is allowed more than two posts per day. Posts have to be civil and relevant to local issues, and use the poster’s real name.

These rules mean that ordinary citizens can be just as active as politicians.

All forum postings are freely visible on the Web at http://canterburyissues.org.nz. This has a levelling effect, says Randow, and while the Forum has seen its share of public spats, it has also seen apologies, and people persuaded to change their minds.

Dan Randow is pleased with the interest the Forum has generated. He says the Forum is is positioned to play a key part in increasing engagement between citizens and Councils. “The Mayor and Councillors who are elected will be challenged in the Forum, and their responses, or lack of them, will be visible to all”.

The Forum was started by citizens interested in increasing participation in the democratic process. It is run by a volunteer steering committee, overseen by the Canterbury Communications Trust, which runs community access radio station PlainsFM 96.9. The steering team is responsible for ensuring that the Forum is run in a non-partisan manner.

Forum founder Dan Randow is an online collaboration specialist with Internet startup OnlineGroups.Net. Randow aims to start similar forums in other areas around New Zealand, in time for the 2008 general election.

ENDS

. . .

Dan Randow, Forum Manager
Canterbury Public Issues Forum
http://canterburyissues.org.nz
dan@onlinegroups.net
ph 03-377-5377

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