People of Sacramento commenting on the news: Carol Dahmen

Carol Dahmen, political marketing manager at Comcast Spotlight West Division, outside Chops. Photo: Kevin Fiscus.
Carol Dahmen, political marketing manager at Comcast Spotlight West Division, outside Chops. Photo: Kevin Fiscus.

(This is the 23rd installment in a weekly series with people who don’t work in journalism commenting on the news. Photography by Kevin Fiscus. If you’d like to participate, message or tweet me.)

Meet Carol Dahmen.

She’s 50, a Sacramento native, a Sacramento State graduate, lives in West Sacramento, serves on the board of directors for the American Association of Political Consultants and the California Museum and works as the political marketing manager for Comcast Spotlight.

She has more than 20 years of professional experience in politics and, in her current position, educates political professionals as to how they can best deliver specific messages to targeted audiences. The traditional campaign — throwing a lot of money at broadcast television — no longer works. It’s her job, she explains, to “give campaigns confidence that the media they’re buying is going to be effective.”

You may have seen her in the news this year after she started a petition to disbar Matt McLaughlin, the Huntington Beach attorney who proposed the “Sodomite Suppression Act.” The measure was killed in June, McLaughlin continues to practice law.

“It’s an interesting discussion about free speech, and I get that,” Dahmen told The Sacramento Bee in March. “But this is a lawyer, and he’s advocating for murder.”

We met at Chocolate Fish Coffee in October to talk about the city of Sacramento and her thoughts on the news.

Carol says she’s watched midtown grow up in the last 15 years and says it’s an exciting time to live in Sacramento. There are distinct neighborhoods, cool restaurants and a bustling art scene — led by the likes of Clay Nutting and David Garibaldi. If you’re young, she says, midtown is where you want to be.

She describes the farm-to-fork movement as phenomenal and credits chefs like Patrick Mulvaney with inspiring a new generation in how they embed themselves in the community. She just wishes the brewery scene existed when she was in college.

While there is a lot to be excited about, she has her concerns. Our “very liveable city” must respond to growth with smart investments in infrastructure and this “affordable city” must ensure it remains so. More art, more small businesses and a unique identity that further differentiates Sacramento from the rolling suburbs of Southern California.

“There’s always been an opportunity to make this wonderful city,” she says.

Carol, as you will read in her responses below, is like many of the other contributors to this series. She consumes a lot of news, she’s seen her habits change with the advent of new technology and she’s is drawn to deeper work.

We talked more about local television news than any other media industry, which shouldn’t be surprising considering she works in television with fiancé often on television. She says there’s less latitude in local news departments with corporate ownership shaping cookie-cutter programming. She’s not interested in crime coverage — says it doesn’t affect her — and would like to see more stories of how people are creating better communities through better communication.

“You’d assume there’s more violence based on what you see on TV,” she says.

Carol answered the following questions by email about how she gets the news. Text submitted May 18.

How do you get your news?
I consume news many different ways. Internet, TV — both broadcast and cable — and print newspapers on the weekend. I usually start with Twitter to see what is breaking, then Rough & Tumble for political news and then the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Chronicle apps where I have subscriptions. Twitter is great for politicos because reporters and consultants can easily talk to each other. I am probably an enigma because I am watching and monitoring all the time. As I write this, on my laptop, I am watching CNN, checking Facebook on my iPhone, my Twitter feed on my iPad and work email on my other iPhone.

What’s the first news event you remember?
Watergate. I would later learn just how close my family was to this as my uncle Lyn Nofziger ran CREEP – Committee to Re-Elect the President. His presence loomed large over me and still does. I am the only other family member dumb enough, or smart enough, to work in the political field. I am an executive board member of the American Association of Political Consultants. We inducted Lyn into the political consulting Hall of Fame last year. I produced the video and tribute on stage. Here is the video.

What content do you pay for?
I pay for The Sacramento Bee, NYT, WSJ, SF Chronicle. I get print versions of all on the weekend.

What’s the last great thing you ate?
My fiancé’ Kevin Eckery makes the best grilled chicken ever. Well, anything he cooks for me is the best, because its made with love (corny, but true). He is a political TV commentator, chef and speaks doctor, lawyer, German, Portuguese, French and Spanish. I hit the jackpot. I am so thankful he cooks because I am like Carrie from “Sex and the City” – I would keep sweaters in my oven.

Who’s doing it right in news?
Al Jazeera, PBS, BBC America for TV – they do longer more in-depth stories. For Capitol reporting, John Myers – if you don’t have him on Twitter notification, you miss out on scoops.


Name the three most important issues facing Sacramento.
(1) Public education — I was in eighth grade when Proposition 13 passed. By the time I graduated from high school in 1983, I could see the damage it had done. Rival high school shut down, no more driver training, no more summer sports school. If you lead with education as a priority, you build a better community that has less crime.

(2) Crumbling infrastructure, our roads and our schools — We used to world-class. No more. We must re-invest for the next century.

(3) Diversifying our economy — This can’t be just a government town and thanks to people like mayors Christopher Cabaldon and Kevin Johnson, we are changing how people view and invest in our city. #farmtoforkcapitol

What do you absolutely hate about the news?
Local broadcast news has turned into the Ten Second Tom character from “50 First Dates”. No in-depth stories about issues that affect a majority of people, not enough stories about people doing things right and leading by example. Just stupid stories about shootings that affect less than 1 percent of viewing audience. LA is the worst with covering car chases. Too much emphasis on crime in general. Reporters not given enough time to properly cover a story because of the 24/7 hyper news cycle.


What’s the most important issue to you that’s not being covered well enough?
The wealth gap and our failing education system.

If you could be anywhere, an-hour-and-a-half drive away, where would you be?

Follow Carol (@sactotrixie) on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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