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When Christina Daigneault worked as a field director on Evan Davis’ unsuccessful 1998 campaign for New York State Attorney General, one of her duties was to compile a daily roundup of political news from around the state. And as she went about the labor-intensive business of culling items from the far-flung Web sites of candidates, elected officials, advocacy groups and media outlets, she began to think that there had to be a better way. Now there is. Daigneault, a second-year student at Brooklyn Law School, last year launched a Web site called nyvote.com with the help of Bradley Siciliano, another former Davis volunteer who is an associate counsel at JVC Americas Corp. Their idea was to create a non-partisan, centralized resource for local political information. Both Democrats with a history of active campaign work, Daigneault, 25, and Siciliano, 33, have stepped away from the campaign trail to devote their efforts to the site, to the shock of many who know them. “It’s something that everyone asks,” Siciliano acknowledged. “How do two Democrats put together a non-partisan Web site?” But the pair said that their frustration with what they see as the disingenuous coverage of politics in the mainstream press has fueled their commitment to keep their own site’s content as objective as possible. “Part of the idea of New York Vote is that there is so little clear, unspun political information,” Siciliano said. “We don’t want to muddle that in any way.” Davis, a partner at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton who is now president of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, said he is rooting for his former campaign volunteers. “I think the New York Vote site is groundbreaking stuff,” he said. “It’s really useful to campaigns, to political junkies like a lot of us are and to the general public that’s interested in digging deeper.” Raised in Nassau County, N.Y., Daigneault volunteered there on campaigns for former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and President Clinton, and served as president of the College Democrats while a student at Marymount Manhattan College. After graduation, she worked in opposition research on behalf of Clinton for Dick Morris. Later, as an intern at the Brennan Center for Justice, Daigneault developed a keen interest in campaign finance reform. She said she was drawn to Davis’ campaign in part because he made that issue the centerpiece of his candidacy. A graduate of Cornell University and Hofstra University School of Law, Siciliano spent four years as a litigation associate at Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts before moving to Golenbock, Eiseman, Assor & Bell. At both firms, he wrestled with the challenge of balancing his legal career with his political interests. “I was always sort of struggling with wanting to be a lawyer and also wanting to do something more interesting,” he said. Siciliano had been frustrated in his initial attempts to get involved on behalf of Davis, and complained to Daigneault when she returned his call to the campaign. “That will not happen again,” Siciliano remembered her telling him. And indeed, Daigneault was in almost constant contact after that. Recalled Siciliano, “My secretary at Golenbock knew Christina better than any client I had.” CENTRAL LOCATION Because Davis had set a self-imposed limit of $2,500 on individual contributions, Daigneault and Siciliano worked together on a campaign with a shoestring budget, using initiatives such as an Internet ad campaign and a cybercast press conference as low-cost alternatives. But they were disappointed by what they found on the Web for New York politics. “We realized there was this need for a centralized resource,” Daigneault said. New York Vote is meant to be just that resource. Daigneault, who founded the site and does most of the day-to-day updating, spent countless hours in the summer of 1999 surfing for prospective links. New York Vote launched last fall, just as Daigneault was beginning her first year at Brooklyn Law, as little more than a portal with a laundry list of links with city and state agencies, political parties and clubs, campaign sites, civic groups and media outlets. The site has since added an archive of press releases from local elected officials, weekly columnists from each side of the political aisle and transcripts of interviews with local politicians, including State Senator Roy Goodman, R-Manhattan, and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. Daigneault and Siciliano also expanded New York Vote this summer to include original reporting by hiring a pair of reporters from local journalism schools as interns. Siciliano recalled approvingly that one of the reporters spent an afternoon reading the newspaper in a bathroom stall at City Hall so that he could sneak into a press conference without a credential. “They bring a certain tenaciousness if not experience,” Siciliano said with a laugh. 51 DISTRICTS Their latest project, called “51 Districts in 51 Weeks,” is a survey of the race in each of New York’s City Council districts in preparation for the 2001 elections, with background sketches and issue statements from the candidates themselves. Siciliano said the project is meant to provide the ammunition for a more informed decision than a simple sound bite can provide. “What you see in print and what you see in ads doesn’t always convey what candidates are about,” he said. “Being able to broadcast real conversations with candidates goes a long way.” To this point, New York Vote is largely a labor of love for its two principals, with negligible advertising revenue, although they hold out hope that political consultants will find an audience that includes plenty of first-time campaigners to be an attractive target for ads. And while Daigneault and Siciliano miss being involved in a campaign as Election Day nears, they are pouring the same kind of fervor into their expansion of the site. “People are apathetic because they’re not empowered with information,” Daigneault explained. “We hope to get people unfiltered information and hope it makes a difference.”

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