BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - "Maybe tomorrow," said Niki Papazoglakis about her new website for voters and politicians. The plan had been to debut Freagle.com Monday September 17, but web designers delayed the "beta test."
For years, Papazoglakis has dreamed of this social media site for politicians, political operatives and voters, and she is excited that it's about to become reality.
She's planned this project long enough that she has a list of people who will help her test to make sure the connections she has on Freagle will work the way they are supposed to. By having people outside the company test it, Freagle truly is a shake-down cruise.
If you know the name "Papazoglakis," her hat was in the ring for the governor's race in 2011 when Bobby Jindal was running for re-election. But otherwise, she's worked at Unisys, for Hewlett-Packard, and for the LSU AG center. She has also been very active raising awareness of sexual violence through the community group PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment).
Papazoglakis said voters may like the fact that candidates will appear alongside public records that have no "spin." The campaign finance information will not be provided by the candidate's campaign but instead by the Ethics Commission. Many records will be directly from the state's managing agencies.
"These days, your constituents and supporters are on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But they're simply not designed for politics. In fact, 'talking politics' is mostly frowned upon," Niki told politicians. "That's where Freagle comes in. It's ALL about politics. A place your constituents can come to connect with you, hear what you have to say, and give their feedback. And unlike town hall meetings, it's ALWAYS 'on' and at your voters' fingertips!"
Papazoglakis said as a voter you won't post a question and then tag the candidates you want to answer it, instead you use your tag to open the drop-down on a subject like healthcare and transportation. Choose any subject. If a candidate in your voting district has posted a statement on the subject, you'll read it.
Candidates will get a free roundup of voters for their campaign. They can release the daily buzz if they want to, knowing voters on Freagle in their district will get it, and they can even collect campaign donations, using a third party financial pay service, Paul Dietzel II's Anedot.
Dietzel launched Anedot five years ago and since then it "makes securely accepting online, mobile and web donations easy for nonprofits, political organizations and another causes. Additionally the platform manages donors, supporters and campaigns," according to Dietzel's own description on LinkedIn.
I asked where the name "Freagle" came from. "Freagle is a combination of the words Freedom and Eagle, " Niki said. "They represent liberty and justice, and we're hoping to restore a political process that I believe is broken. We want to change political dialog."
Niki said her website is largely self-funded, and computer designers are waiting for their cut in the proceeds. When asked where she will monetize this effort, she said the candidates will pay to be on Freagle, but once there, they will automatically be connected to every voter on Freagle in their districts.
"It's not like having to buy friends who are voters on Facebook. Freagle is intended to connect politicians with voters automatically free of charge."
Papazoglakis said she will control carefully what is charged of the candidates because she does not want to disadvantage candidates who don't have big campaign funds.
"I want to provide a level playing field for candidates of substance," she said.
She wants Freagle to be available to anyone who wants to run for office.
So when will voters get a crack at these candidates?
"We go public September 8. I'll be there as candidates are qualifying, and Freagle will open somewhere around the start of qualifying."