Imagine a world where Pennsylvania politics could be tracked, analyzed, and discussed no matter where you live. J. Gregory Palmer '04 not only imagined it, he created it with his Web site, KeystonePolitics.com
"Keystone Politics was the product of my dissatisfaction with the quality of political information available at the local/state level," says Palmer, who is currently working on his master's in political science at Lehigh and will be applying to Ph.D. programs for entry into fall 2006.
After this year's highly covered presidential election, one would assume that interest in politics wouldn't be a problem. "Unfortunately, people often overlook local and state politics, even though both can have an important impact on their lives," Palmer says.
"What happens in Washington, Harrisburg, and City Hall affects our everyday lives, so it's vital to participate in the political process," Palmer says. "Legislators in Harrisburg passed a bill authorizing slot machine casinos, one of which has a good chance of opening on the old Bethlehem Steel lands."
Palmer, a member of the much-discussed young voter demographic, realizes and believes in the importance of young people turning out to vote.
"Young people especially need to draw lines between what politicians are doing and how that affects them. When they realize that voting is one of the few ways they can influence policy and their world, they do get out and vote," he says.
Palmer has two main goals for the Web site, which went live in August: He wants to provide timely, accurate information and a reference tool for political professionals and everyone else interested in Pennsylvania politics.
"Local politics is more accessible and has a closer effect on our lives than many people realize," Palmer says. "Mayors and council members make decisions about what will happen to our homes, our streets, and the future development of our towns."
Starting the site from scratch required a lot of hard work, but Palmer says he enjoys what he does.
"The site's viewership increased a great deal in the weeks leading up to the election. It was tough to focus on Pennsylvania in the final weeks of campaign season, but I kept the focus on the local and statewide happenings," Palmer says.
Palmer also has a passion for talking and writing about politics and plans on a career teaching at the university level.--James CalderLehigh Alumni Bulletin