Debra Bowen: Future Senator?

Yeeeeah powerful women! Sign me up!

Debra Bowen, Secretary of State of California, spoke at UC Berkeley tonight to the Cal Berkeley Democrats in 159 Mulford. Bowen, of recent twitter fame, is in charge of elections and all voter registration in California.

She believes that voter participation is a goal that transcends partisanship, and unlike party-driven officials we witnessed in Ohio through November 4, she stands by the ideal that the more people who vote, the better. Always.

She works for open source voting software rights, so that county registrars, instead of navigating a privatized system of bids and contracts with nefarious voting machine companies, can be assured that election fairness will not be compromised.

Much of what she discussed was the importance of twittering: The transparency it brings is very important to her, and although it has occasionally conflicted with her staff and their “message unity” or whatnot, her response has been: suck it up. Yes, the internet has changed how we communicate. Therefore, it’s her staff’s job to also keep an eye on what happens on her Facebook, her Twitter, etc., and to realize that elected officials are individuals too.

Bowen served in the State Senate from 1992 to 2006, elected in the wake of a redistricting measure that finally granted women and minorities practical access to California’s elected offices. Serving alongside such distinguished women as Jackie Speier, Bowen took the lead on issues of Internet accessibility.

When asked what her plans were for the future, she spoke of her excitement that a measure to publicly finance the office of the Secretary of State would be on the same 2010 ballot on which she will seek reelection; that said, the measure would not take effect until 2014, when she is no longer in office.

And now, the breaking news: Debra Bowen (who understands that even connecting with your constituents via twitter requires that “you have to take responsibility” for your online behavior) has mentioned that she is closely following Senator Dianne Feinstein’s potential bid for governor in 2010. I asked “keeping an eye on the seat? Or on Senator Feinstein?”
Her response: “Keeping an eye on whether Dianne Feinstein…Well, if there’s a vacancy…”
Thunderous applause.

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