Friday, August 31, 2018

Campaign Websites – HoCo Board of Education (Part 2)

Side note:  whenever I write, “Part Two,” I hear it in Mr. Plinkett’s voice.  I assume all of my readers are Red Letter Media fans and will grasp the reference immediately.

Back to the website review…

Vicky Cutroneo

The home page is visually interesting…with some prominent endorsements alongside a large photograph of the candidate.  The text (including a “Donate” button!) blends in with the background somewhat and the font could be a bit larger to enhance readability, but I am focusing on small stuff. You aren’t here for my aesthetic ruminations.

The Priorities page centers on three key issues: fiscal management, equity/inclusion/diversity, and school climate & engagement.  Her issue mix is not dissimilar from those of other BoE candidates.   In terms of presenting a detailed and forward-looking agenda, she excels in the fiscal management section.  The equity section is more focused on problem identification and raising questions as opposed to discussing concrete solutions.  The school climate and engagement section is more akin to the fiscal management discussion insofar as it is more solutions-centric, although without quite as much granularity compared to the ideas found in the fiscal section.

Her “In the News” section features endorsements.  This might be a good place for her campaign to put candidate questionnaires…or thought pieces penned by the candidate herself.  Alas, it is not presently utilized in that manner.

She does provide “news you can use” on the home page regarding upcoming forums.  That is handy.

As I have stated before, it is unlikely she will finish outside of the top four in the General Election, although strange developments happen.  Her campaign raised $3,408 in the last period and has $532 Cash-On-Hand at present.  Is her website effective as a repository of information/voter engagement vehicle?  It’s OK…perhaps a B or B-.

Dr. Wu is…an interesting candidate.  I am not condemning with faint praise here.  I simply find his candidacy, along with his website, offering up an odd mix of high points and head-scratchers. Back to first principles…let’s explore the effectiveness of his campaign website as a communications platform.

It is well-organized, with useful information for voters (Maps! Questionnaire responses!).  He makes decent use of audio-visuals (such as the video showing his campaign kick-off).  His “Top Posts” section offers voters a quick means of locating information on hot topics such as overcrowding and zoning.  These are all positives.

But then there are the sloppy typos (“campgain” trail, nonpartisan “racet” are two that leapt out). He is seeking a seat on the Board of Education and so proper attention to detail regarding spelling and grammar is, well, important.  His “Published Articles” include many that are more CA-driven, which may be of less interest to those who are specifically seeking information on education issues.

His Campaign Platform doesn’t spell out as many concrete solutions as it could/should…it reads more like a Campaign Philosophy and it can approach platitudinous levels in certain spots.

In short, at present, the concept is better than the execution.  With some additional meat and some proof-reading, the website would be a more compelling communications tool.  Given his solid showing in the primary and his fundraising numbers ($700 in the last reporting period; $2,587 CoH), Wu’s candidacy should be taken seriously.  I think he will end up being a contender for the 4th spot.

Ok, I know I wasn’t going to talk aesthetics but wow, his campaign is using the entire color palette from a mid-‘90s Geocities website.  It’s a little busy.  My eyes are tired.

Moving past the visual onslaught, the Platform (focusing on four themes and three priorities) is spelled out in some detail.  He seems to be putting more of an emphasis on mental health compared to some (but not all) of the other candidates.  While I found the Platform to be a little thin in terms of offering up well-fleshed out solutions, the inclusion of his questionnaire responses helped in terms of conveying a larger vision.  I would have liked to have seen more of a focus on operational/programmatic ideas/prescriptions…particularly as it relates to challenges such as promoting equity and alleviating overcrowding.  His answers to those questions feel thoughtful, yet not as complete as they could be.

I think the mix of communications (with “Meet Danny” and “Get Involved” and “Donate” being candidate-centered…and only the “Platform” section being voter-centered) is a bit too inward-looking.  I am not saying he needs to wonk out like Miller, but the weight should be on how to resolve education challenges.  At present, it’s a little heavy on bio and endorsement/campaign news.

He raised $530 in the last reporting period and is showing $1,654 CoH.  He finished 8th in the primary election.  I have a hard time seeing him finishing higher than 7th in the General.

As my readers may recall, Dr. Pandey received my 4th vote in the primary.  For Reasons. 
It looks like her campaign did a website re-design, and I can’t say it was a smashing success.  The “Goals” are very topline.  I don’t think her campaign is highlighting her subject matter expertise as effectively as it could be.  There is a “Meet Anita” tab at the bottom of the website that takes you to her biography, some publications, and awards but I seem to recall there being a more impressive (albeit long) list of credentials and accomplishments on a previous iteration of her campaign site.

I am not sure I would have the endorsements scrolling on the bottom of the page as they do…while it provides a sense of motion, they move perhaps a bit too quickly (which diminishes readability and hence the value derived from showcasing endorsements).  

She is a scholar but, being candid, this site looks cheesy.  It doesn’t radiate gravitas. It appears to be something that was piecemealed together.  There are some interesting ideas in her brief Goals section, but the presentation doesn’t draw the reader in.  Her solutions are not being highlighted properly.  And she lacks a central animating principle that defines her education vision (note: a tagline is not a core narrative).

Her inclusion of a video and podcast is good, but unfortunately, there isn’t much else I can say about this website as a voter engagement vehicle.  In terms of fundraising, she raised almost $97 in the last reporting period and has a CoH sum of $78.65.  I expect Pandey and Mackey will battle it out for 7th place.

In solidarity.

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