Do vote though. And vote for the right people. Or else.
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Time for more website reviews!
We've been through the mayoral candidates. We've been through the Ward Councilors who actually bothered to have websites. Now we have the councilors-at-large!
There are five councilor-at-large positions. One of them is currently held by Tom Donnelly, who won't be returning. Annie DeMartino and Thomas Conry are both incumbents, but don't seem to have websites. Jesus "Jay" Cruz and Dean Tran are incumbents who do have websites! We also have newcomers Shaun Cormier and Marcus DiNatale running (who have websites).
Once again I've failed to find a decent list or just who's running and how many seats are contestable (I'm assuming all, but who knows!). Shouldn't stuff like this be easy to find? Isn't that what the internet is for? Could some kind person with more time than me put one together? Maybe the city clerk or a newspaper reporter or somebody? Sheesh!
Not that it matters for this post. Here I'm just going to critique the websites of the four Councilor-at-large candidates who do have websites. Anyone else can go to hell.
Let's go in alphabetical order, shall we?
Shaun Cormier: www.shauncormier.com
What are the first impressions of Cormier's site?
Every page has a bigass picture of the city, which is actually the only picture on the site! It's not a bad picture though, and the site is actually pretty simple and clean-looking. Also at the bottom it says "This website is designed and maintained by Shaun Cormier," which I'm going to take literally. If he did indeed make it all himself he actually did quite a nice job. Seems like a FrontPage jobby.
On his front page he does the traditional "I'm running for office because I want improvement in the stuff that currently sucks" thing, lists where to vote, and gives this more-specific paragraph:
If elected as Councilor At-Large, I will strive for improving communications between city officials, propose that the City of Fitchburg use renewable energy sources, look into tax relief for first time homebuyers, and find ways to attract more recreational businesses to Fitchburg. I will further strive to find ways for the city to save money.Not terrible, but not inspiring either.
Moving to his About Me page, we find no picture! Hey, everyone else has had a picture! This lack of picture may not be a bad thing. Cormier's quite young-looking (and I believe is just 22, so that makes sense), and conceivably his youth could turn off some old fogey voters. Personally I see it as a strong point, but old people have more votes than I do. Then again, young people have computers.
He gives some of his background (lived here forever, etc), talks about his job (sadly without mentioning the really awesome parts), and takes this interesting swipe at the current state of political discourse in the town:
There have been many negative articles written towards city departments blaming city council or city council blaming city departments on certain issues. I want to see all city departments working together to help solve problems. I would especially like to see a better relationship with the city council and mayor.Oh, snap! Take that, stupid people who can't get along! Cormier's coming to town and he's going to make you all do trust-building exercises and give each other Secret Santa gifts!
Next we have his Ideas page, which is like an "Issues" page, but without the word "Issues" being involved.
It's pretty decent, actually. The best we've seen from Council candidates so far, at least. Renewable energy is the top bullet (I'll come back to that in a moment). He wants to kick the asses of "Delinquent Tax Payers," who I would argue should actually be called "Tax Non-payers," but whatever. He spells "increased" wrong in this bit, but it's just a typo. Still, Unicow hates tpyos!
He also proposes incentives for first-time home buyers, which is nice. Wisely wants to exploit FSC, which is something a lot of people have been saying for awhile now but nobody has managed to do. Then there's more bugging the city officials to get together and hug. Fine.
Last, he proposes a Route 2 On/Off ramp (both West and Eastbound) on Mt. Elam Rd. Which I've heard talked about before and isn't a bad idea.
The next page is actually the most prominent link, entitled Renewable Energy Information. Cormier is clearly big into renewable energy, which is something I also feel strongly about. So kudos for that!
He talked about the need for renewable energy on his "Ideas" page, and here he gives basically just a buttload of links to information about it. Unfortunately he doesn't go into any great detail. Just links. Which I suppose is okay, but I'd like to see more explanation of where and how these technologies can be best used in Fitchburg. Wikipedia pages do not help me with that! They're great if you want to learn to speak Klingon or find out the history of LOLCats, though.
Then there's a Links page.
Hey, I'm on it! That's awesome! Go me!
Anyway, it's just links and links are boring. It's sort of nice that he links to his opponents though. Classy touch!
The last page is a contact page, and suitably uninteresting.
Conclusion: Actually, not too bad. It's sparse, yes, but it does have a few specific ideas and remains pretty light on the political rhetoric. The design is simple but unobtrusive. I'd like to see the renewable energy stuff fleshed out a bit more, though. Also, the site is totally devoid of any pictures of the toys he made. I want to see the fire-breathing horse "Butterscotch!"
Jay Cruz: www.councillorcruz.com
First off, I have a major problem with Cruz spelling the word "councilor" as "councillor" (with two l's). Yeah, I know both may in fact be acceptable in some areas, but "councilor" is the right way! If you're on the fucking council you should know how to spell councilor!
Anyway, Cruz's page is done by Kreative Dezign, the same people I criticized for the god-awful Seney site. Yet this site doesn't look too bad. It does have a very strange looking blobby blue picture on the front page. Which I guess is an old-timey picture of Fitchburg, but looks like crap.
Let's start with Jay's Bio!
He went to Monty Tech, was in the Marines, has some kids and a wife, served on a couple of boards, and owns a heating & air conditioning business. Boring. Next!
Oh, next he just tells me How to Volunteer. But he hasn't given me a reason to want to volunteer yet so I'm not going to. Then it's Make a Contribution. Same deal. And on to Fundraising, which I almost skipped!
Good thing I didn't, because I would have missed the charming photos of him surrounded by former mayors, children, and assorted old people!
Okay, that was a waste of time too. How about some issues or something Jay?
The next link is called Articles and has one article on it: "Cruz Plans City Council Campaign / If Elected, Cruz could be the only Latino on the Fitchburg City Council." Umm, he already is. He's an incumbent (albeit an appointed one). Big whoop.
Then he has Contact Information, an offsite link to register to vote, Where to Vote, and Useful Links, which aren't all that useful and don't include me!
What the fuck, Jay? No issues at all? No information about where you stand? Nothing?
Oh wait, there's a link to Charter Reform on the other side of the page. But argh! It just takes you to a question of whether you'd sign a petition to support charter reform! He doesn't even tell you if he supports it!
Fucking waste of time.
Conclusion: This site wasn't half as ugly as the other Kreative Dezign site I've looked at during this process, but it suffers the same problem. Total lack of meaningful content. It has like 5 different ways to contact Cruz in order to help him, but absolutely nothing about how he'd actually help me. This is not an informational website. It's not even about self-promotion. It's about trying to get people who already support you to help more, because nobody else is going to have a clue what Cruz thinks. Plus he spells councilor wrong. Bad!
Marcus DiNatale: marcusdinatale.com
First impression? This site was designed for a tiny browser window. There's a little box with the important stuff in it, then a giant field of purply-red stars (communism?) as the background. I'm not crazy about the style, but it does look professionally done.
The front has a picture of Marcus, along with his slogan: "Stabilize, Prioritize, and Harmonize." For some reason this makes me picture him in a barbershop quartet.
He "respectfully" thanks you for visiting his website (really Marcus, it was no problem!), and seems to want you to send him a yard sign for some reason. His "priorities" are also listed, but is really the first part of a linked page (fancy!), so we'll deal with that when I visit the links.
Handily, the annoying "Volunteer/Contribute/Contact" links are all set aside from the links that might actually be interesting to me, so I'm just going to ignore all of those! Let's see what Mr. "I have a cooler goatee than Jay Cruz" has to say!
First we have Meet Marcus. Oh my god that's a confusing picture! The picture of Marcus in the banner has a goatee. In the picture of his family his father has a goatee and he's clean-shaven! But they look fairly similar! I've added some stuff to this screenshot to try to explain it:
As you can see, the goatee-Marcus up top corresponds to the clean-shaven Marcus down below. Disregard the goateed older DiNatale (state Rep. Steve!), and the sister (who really you wouldn't get confused about anyway but happened to be in the picture).
Why is everyone so proud of being a "lifelong resident" of Fitchburg? That's not a qualification! Also, he lists education and stuff. He's on the school committee too, which is good.
Moving on, he has a lengthy Priorities page! Like really dense-looking and long. The sort of long thing that actually discourages me from reading it, to be honest. I'm going to do it anyway, of course. But if I'm discouraged, then you can bet the casual web-weenie is even more discouraged.
Hello again, readers. This is where I got distracted! I don't remember what did it, but it was probably related to sex, drugs, or rock'n'roll. Regardless, I didn't finish, but really all that was left was to make fun of Marcus some more and then hit Dean Tran.
I'll give super-short reviews of both of their sites just so you don't feel slighted:
DiNatale: Okay, but boring.
Tran: Has a thing called a "shoutbox", which is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. Man, if I ever actually developed the motivation to review this thing I would have endlessly made fun of it. But I didn't, so bully for him.
There you go, folks!