Sounding off in cyberspace Featured

9:59am EDT July 22, 2002

You have no excuse not to get involved. Entrepreneur and activist Alex Sheshunoff recently launched E-ThePeople, an interactive town hall of sorts.

It's a free-for-all online political action forum where you can type in your ZIP code, select from a database of 140,000 elected officials serving 7,000 towns and cities nationwide, and convey your concerns-hastily and hassle-free-to lawmakers via the Internet.

The idea for E-ThePeople was born about a year ago, when Sheshunoff was watching a televised city council debate in his hometown, Austin, Texas. "I knew there had to be a better way to get busy but concerned people involved in the lawmaking process. I thought we could use technology to do it," Sheshunoff says.

The free, political action service-at www.e-thepeople.com-also makes it possible for organizations to develop letter writing campaigns, petition drives and online fund-raising. Sheshunoff says it sends a powerful message to government when a group of 100 or so business owners sign a petition to lawmakers voicing opposition to a particular issue. So he makes it extremely easy to do just that, with the click of a mouse.

As Sheshunoff tours the country, drumming up interest and support for his venture, he sees hundreds of people who want more of a say in the legislative process. But they either don't know how to go about doing it or they just don't have time, he says.

"They're just too busy keeping their homes and offices going. But it doesn't have to be that way. We shouldn't simply throw up our hands and say, 'Oh, well!' My thought in creating E-ThePeople was, if we can make it easier for people when it comes to political participation, it can only be a good thing. If we can demonstrate to business owners that they have a voice and that their opinion matters, we will really have accomplished something. Our technology can really help the business community get its message out."

Since Sheshunoff has made it possible for you to give legislators a piece of your mind without having to write a check and lick a stamp, you've got no excuse for not sounding off.

How to reach: www.e-thepeople.com