Ben Silverman Talks Politics
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BS: Has your campaign utilized new media and technology?
GN: I think new media is not just a way to win a campaign, it’s a way to govern. Several months ago I launched something in San Francisco called datasf.org. We’re beginning to distribute all of our data in a downloadable manner that allows people to do mash-ups and use data to approve city services and make applications or produce applications for the iPhone and Facebook platforms, etc. We think the prospects can potentially be groundbreaking in terms of designing systems and deliverables in a way that suit the unique needs and desires of our customers—the public. I don’t want to overstate it, but I really believe this is a shift in terms of a philosophy of how you govern and how you engage the public in the life of their community, their state and their cities. This kind of technology and advancement is critical. But I really think the key question is how we’re using new media not just to get elected, but how we use it to govern more effectively. To me this is just the beginning embers of this starting to take shape.
BS: Since the entertainment industry is located in Los Angeles and across California, I’m curious how you feel about its contributions to the state.
GN: The next governor is going to have to do a lot more to keep productions in the state of California. The entertainment industry is critical to our economic vibrancy. It’s critical to our identity. It’s part of the DNA of this state, and it’s something we should be [proud] of and thankful for. But we can’t rest on our laurels, and we can’t take it for granted. The state needs to take leadership. In San Francisco I have local film incentives. They’re modest, but we tried on our own level to do something. But it’s still not good enough. To me, it’s self-evident that this needs to be a big part of our economic- and workforce-development strategies as well.
BS: What are some of your favorite things about Los Angeles?
GN: It’s one of the most diverse regions in the most diverse state in [one of] the world’s most diverse democracies. And by and large people are living together and advancing together across every conceivable difference, and there’s something truly magical about that. It’s something that defines my optimism about the state’s future and certainly the region’s future.
BS: Have you discovered any hidden gems in Los Angeles during your campaign?
GN: We stumbled on the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, which is about as good as it gets—and I spend a lot of time at farmers’ markets. That was one of the wonderful treats of this campaign, and that’s the way of dealing with politics and finding balance in terms of the personal. And of course, I’m a modern-art fan—it was my minor at Santa Clara University—so going to LACMA has certainly been enjoyable and impressive.
FROM ABOVE: Mayor Gavin Newsom hosting Unconventional ’08, a concert event that took place in Denver during the 2008 Democratic National Convention; the mayor with his wife, Jennifer.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY WIREIMAGE.COM; FIDEL LIRIO (NEWSOM); MITCHELL HAASETH (SILVERMAN)