When Ben first pitched me the idea of SeeClickFix, I was excited by its potential to change the public space. Until then, I would say I had been moderately engaged in the civic life of New Haven. I voted dutifully in each election and participated in a community garden. I was a member of New Haven's first "Democracy School" classes. I half-heartedly volunteered for campaigns and haphazardly donated to them.
As we grew SeeClickFix from an idea, to a project, and finally to a business, we realized we needed to draw some clear lines. Since we were selling software to government entities, we decided that one of our most important boundaries would be to remain politically neutral.
That meant not volunteering on campaigns, not supporting individual candidates, and not donating to candidates. During New Haven's past election season, candidates vied for an open mayoral seat. This was the first time in nearly twenty years that New Haven residents would elect a new mayor, which led to active campaigning across the city. SeeClickFix, however, remained committed to our pledge and did not participate in any campaign activities.
The election is now over and it comes time to govern. The Mayor-Elect Toni Harp Transition Team has asked me to be a part of its Economic Development Committee. I accepted the position and wanted to elaborate on the thought process behind my decision.
I believe that it meets our politically neutral position for the following reasons:
- The campaign is over and this is about serving when called.
- This is an advisory role not a decision making role.
- Participation is not about a particular party or candidate, but instead about making New Haven a better place.
I would love to hear any suggestions I can give to the transition team. I would also appreciate opinions on whether or not you believe my decision errs on the side of political neutrality.
You can reach me in the comments below, by email (email@example.com), or by cell phone (412-414-7537).