Silicon Valley’s role in the upcoming midterm elections is already getting a lot more interesting with a new tech-savvy candidate in the race who is looking to fill the unexpected departure of one-term representative Gloria McLeod. Christina Gagnier would bring rare tech chops to the federal legislature as a long-time digital rights lawyer and startup founder (who also competed in TechCrunch’s own Disrupt Battlefield).
What makes Gagnier qualified to hold the exalted position of congresswoman? “People are fairly tired of representatives that are ‘politically institutionalized.’ It is important not to underestimate some of the competition in this race that have spent time in state politics, but I believe people are looking for an alternative,” she said.
As a digital rights lawyer, Gagnier tells me that she’ll prioritize digital literacy, immigration, privacy, and protection from online harassment. Indeed, at this week’s SXSW conference, she’s giving a talk on the dangers of “revenge porn” — websites that publicize the once-intimate videos uploaded by scorned lovers. Additionally, her startup, Trail, aims at giving training and employment opportunity to the digitally illiterate (see her Battlefield pitch below).
This may certainly give her an advantage in the recession rocked CA-35 congressional district. “Any candidate, regardless of tech, legal, medical, or other professional background needs to know the pulse of ALL of their constituents,” said Jim Green, founder of Tech4America, a nonprofit political group in the Bay Area.
But Christina will likely need Silicon Valley’s deep pockets to compete in her upcoming primary.
“As a lawyer, I am working with startups on a daily basis. I hear the issues that they face and know the obstacles, regulatory and otherwise, that sometimes prohibit them from success,” she writes. “Most importantly, I have started a business myself and can appreciate what it means to take something from nothing (literally from $87) and build a profitable company.”
Will that win the support of the tech community? “I’m intrigued by Christina’s potential candidacy, and of course, I’m always supportive of those who put their names on a ballot,” says Mike McGeary, head of the technology lobby, Engine Advocacy. At the very least, it’s “an opportunity for our community to talk in greater depth during the electoral process about our issues.”
You can learn more about Gagnier on her official website here and her video below