Some but not all of the candidates for Richmond County sheriff are embracing the digital age as part of their campaign strategy.
Two candidates – Richmond County schools Public Safety Lt. Richard Roundtree and sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles – launched Web sites that coincided with their official announcements to run in March. More than a month later, other candidates are starting to move in that direction.
Peebles’ and Roundtree’s sites allow users to learn more about the candidates, volunteer for campaigns, find out about events and even make contributions.
Roundtree said a Web site is a necessity because these days everyone is accustomed to instant access to information.
“We live in a technological age,” he said. “It’s important to give information and to get feedback.”
Roundtree said the Web site was a priority for his campaign from the beginning. He also has Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“Everyone is plugged in to one outlet or another nowadays,” he said. “It’s all about accessibility.”
Peebles said creating a Web site was a huge priority for his campaign because it is the most efficient way of communicating with constituents.
“A Web site is the cheapest way to get the message out to a large group of people,” he said.
Unlike some other more traditional forms of campaigning, such as commercials or mailed information, a Web site can hold people’s attention and allow them to interact and return when they have time, he said.
“They can read a little or as much as they want,” he said.
He said the best thing about having a Web site is that it allows his campaign to track supporters and maintain a database of those who volunteer or donate. It’s easy to use that information when it’s time to organize events or get out the vote, he said.
“It’s already come in handy; it is a great management tool,” Peebles said.
Roundtree said it’s no surprise to him that he’s had some success with donations to his campaign through the Web site.
“It’s more convenient to go online,” he said. “A lot of people don’t even have checks anymore.”
Although some might think that Web sites would appeal to only younger voters, Roundtree said that isn’t his experience.
“My mother has a laptop, and she can go to the Web site,” he said.
Sheriff’s Lt. John Ivey said he has relied on his son to guide him through the digital landscape.
He admits he’s not a great user of the Internet.
“I use the telephone to call somebody,” Ivey said. “I’m not into this texting and so forth, but that’s how it goes. You’ve got to follow progress.”
He said his campaign Web site will be up and running this week.
“This is what people are doing; you’ve got to be able to interact with them.”
Republican candidate Freddie Sanders appears to be lagging the farthest behind his opponents in digital campaigning.
He has yet to create a Web site or any other digital platform.
Ivey has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and so does sheriff’s Lt. Robbie Silas. Silas’ current Web page is a static page that links to his Facebook account.
Silas said he expects his full Web site to go live sometime in the next week. He said it will have features similar to those on the sites of his opponents and will allow people to reach out to him and send in questions that they might not be able to ask otherwise.
He doesn’t think that launching his site weeks after the other candidates will put him at any disadvantage, however.
“We are out there in the street talking to folks from daylight to dark,” Silas said. “I think being out here in person makes a bigger difference.”