In the past few Los Angeles municipal elections, voter turnout has been at an all-time low. Local elections are simply not eliciting the type of involvement needed from LA’s diverse constituents.
At Microsoft, we know that an engaged electorate is the cornerstone of effective governance, and finding opportunities to improve LA’s voter participation needs to be a priority. We know that access to technology increases access to information. We believe that with this knowledge, the voters of LA will better understand the impact their civic participation can have on their city, state, country and the world. This is precisely the goal of a new series of which we are proud to be a part, called Talking About Los Angeles (TALA).
TALA, which was announced this week, is a project created by a coalition of business, labor, education, nonprofit, civic and political leaders. Launching in February 2012, TALA is a series of conversations with the 2013 mayoral candidates. Lead by the Southwest Voters Registration Education Project and Cerrell Associates, this project is a unique opportunity for voters to engage with the mayoral candidates in an open and honest dialogue. TALA will allow each candidate to voice his or her position on the most pressing issues facing LA, including transportation and infrastructure, the environment, quality of life, the economy, education, etc. Each conversation will be moderated by a subject matter expert and will feature a mix of moderated and audience questions.
Hosted at college campuses throughout the Los Angeles-basin, TALA will engage young people and communities not typically involved in municipal elections. In addition to the events themselves, TALA’s website, www.talkingaboutla.com will be an innovative information center about the mayor’s race that will encourage Los Angeles voters to weigh-in on the issues. Site visitors also will have access to the latest news, information and videos of the conversations.
The 2013 Los Angeles mayoral election will define how LA can get back on track to attract businesses, create jobs and provide quality education for our students. Microsoft and the rest of the TALA project team is confident that our effort will lead to well-informed and engaged citizens who will pick the next leader of our city.