offers close look at lawmakers

By on May 21, 2010

KHS grads’ website a forum for discussion
by Keith Beebe
ELBURN—A new website makes it easier for people to keep track of the business their local lawmaker is conducting in the U.S. Capitol.

Think of it as Facebook for politics.

“We want PeepGov to be in the forefront of the political discussion by merely presenting what people are saying so everyone can see it,” PeepGov President and Elburn resident Nick Secrest said. “We want to help facilitate the discussion.”

PeepGov is a political database that provides streaming Congress-related information in real time, essentially bundling up the data available on any Congressperson, and providing that information in an easy-to-understand format. The website is so user-friendly that people can access the PeepGov database without even knowing who represents them in Washington D.C.

“Just (enter) your zip code and you can be brought up to speed on what your voice in Washington is saying,” Secrest said. “Everyone has busy lives, and with the technology in this day and age, it shouldn’t be hard to keep track of what is going on, but it is. PeepGov makes it simple.”

Secrest, a 2004 Kaneland High School graduate, first became interested in building a political website during the 2008 presidential election. He then enlisted the help of his two long-time friends, Brian Signorella and Nic Borg, to start building the site in March 2009. Both Signorella and Borg, who also are 2004 Kaneland graduates, have computer science degrees from Northern Illinois University.

PeepGov’s creation required more than a few personal sacrifices, as the three creators spent an entire year balancing the design of the website with their day jobs, Secrest said.

“Juggling work and my schedule has been the hardest part for me,” he said.

So far, the hard work and sacrifices have been more than worth it, as PeepGov has accumulated thousands of hits during the last two months and continues to garner attention from bloggers looking to post their material on the site. Secrest even plans to soon have candidates be an actual part of the PeepGov community.

The new website has offered Secrest, himself, a chance to keep tabs on his Congressional leaders’ activities.

“I think the main thing (PeepGov) has done for me is allow me to just keep up with what (they) are doing and saying, as well as what people are saying about them,” Secrest said. “Now I get to see what they are doing from all angles, which, up until this point, has never really been done before.”

Secrest believes streaming information is the wave of the future and was inspired by the community interaction featured on websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

“Most political websites present too much information, which makes the information hard to find within the site,” Secrest said. “Our site brings you information in a simple and real-time way. PeepGov also rates congressional leaders and shows you who the most talked about person is and why they are important.”

Through the filters, visitors can even search by state, gender, party or most-active, and the site shows who is being talked about the most at that very moment.

Every Congressperson’s page on the PeepGov website also has a peepscore, which shows the amount of activity each page is receiving from website visitors.

“No (other) site does that,” Secrest said.

What’s next for the website looking to revolutionize the way people view and interact with their local government? Secrest believes the sky’s the limit.

“We want PeepGov to be a household name for real-time information about the people who represent you—from the federal level to the state and local level,” he said.