By Paul Horn. Now that the BC government has extended the terms of municipal councillors and mayors to four years, it is more critical than ever that citizens get to know their candidates before heading to the polls. Luckily, technology affords us the opportunity to have greater connection to the candidates than ever before.

This is the thinking behind a new initiative called the Mission Hot Seat. The Hot Seat is a non-partisan, free and open platform that will put the words of the candidates before the electorate without filters, editing or comment. It’s fair, free and easy.

Here’s how it works: Our Facebook page, Mission Hot Seat, is already up and running. More than 640 engaged citizens have already “liked” us, so they will see the response of municipal candidates to the questions they care most about. Citizens can propose questions by Facebook messaging the Hot Seat and the ones that are of most interest will be forwarded to the candidates. Every day, one question will go out to the candidates’ email addresses, and they will be asked to respond in a timely fashion. Everyone will receive the same email at the same time, and they’ll have the same timeframe to reply. We’ll take their responses, paste them unedited into one daily post and put them on the page for everyone to read. Whatever they say, we will print – warts, wisdom and spelling errors included. Candidates can choose whether to use the platform or not; it’s entirely up to them.

There is no fine print on this. The aim is to have an informed electorate and that’s all. There are no hidden agendas, special interest groups, or preferential treatment. It’s basically an on-line all-candidates meeting. It’s my way of helping the community.

I hope to see Mission take advantage of the forum. A “like” for the Hot Seat is a “like” for democracy.

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