Monday, March 07, 2011

Running for Council

The November elections for councils in this region is just over nine months away.   If you have any interest in getting elected to a council you need to get serious now with your planning.  Here are some suggestions to help potential candidates:

If you are running in Saanich or Victoria here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Beating the incumbents is very, very hard to do.   The incumbents will not formally say if they are running or not till well into the fall.   Best to assume they are all running and you have a huge hill to climb.  You need to make the decision to be in the race before July 1st to have any realistic hope.
  • You need to get your name out there in the public realm now, people need to know who you are long before election day.   How can you do this?    Call into CFAX, there are a lot of issues out there that they cover everyday.  Write letters to the editor for the TC, Victoria or Saanich News, and Monday Magazine.  Do not forget monthly magazines like Douglas and Focus.   Offer an op-ed piece to the TC - 700 words on an issue that matters in this region.  Take part in online groups like Vibrant Victoria.  If people do not know your name by labour day, you really have no chance to get elected.
  • You need to start finding your team.   You need to be comfortable going to your friends and family and telling them point blank you will need their help and you will need a lot of help from them.  You need someone to fundraise for you, you need someone to manage your campaign, you need someone to find volunteers.  
  • You need to raise money, a lot more than you think.   You really need to have someone that can find money for you, that can organize fundraising events.   If you honestly want a chance to get elected to Victoria or Saanich councils you need the money to have ads on CFAX and other radio stations.  You need to be able to have at least 1000 signs.  You need 50,000 or so decent brochures.   You realistically need a minimum of $15,000 in the bank before labour day.   You should not be surprised if you need to spend $30,000.  You need to be running campaign fundraisers all summer, no holiday time for you this year.
  • You need to have your campaign manager in place before July 1st and they have to available 24/7 from then till election day.   You will not win if you do not have a campaign manager.
  • You have to be able to fill the streets and airwaves with your name the day your nomination is submitted.   1000 signs out there and ads on the radio stations.
  • You will not have enough volunteers to run a voter ID campaign unless you create a slate and share resources.   

If you are running in Oak Bay, Colwood, Esquimalt or Sidney

  • You have few easy ways to access the people in your community other than one on one.   All three are small enough that a decent voter ID and election day campaign is what can help you win.
  • Getting your name out at local meetings and in the local Black News Group paper is important.
  • You do have to have your team and your system in place before labour day.
  • You will need a couple of thousand dollars to have signs and brochures.
  • You need to be able to contact about 300 to 400 voters per day for the month before the election and know if they are voting for you or not.
  • You need a lot of people on election day to be able to ensure your supporters voted.   You should have 20 or more people on election day.

If you are running in North Saanich, Central Saanich or Langford

  • These municipalities all currently see very strong divides in the community.  Either you are on one side or the other if you want to get elected.   Even then, if you are on the wrong side you will lose no matter what you do.
  • Honestly, the only tactic that will work in these three to counter the incumbents is to create a formal slate and run a strong group for all the positions and mayor.   

If you are running in Metchosin or Highlands

  • You should know your chances on your own, and there is little I can tell you that will help you.   These two municipalities are unique and it is all about knowing your neighbours.

If you are running in Sooke

  • Sooke is far enough away from the core of the region that it has a different political nature.   It is much more like a local election in a small stand alone town.   The thing that matters in this sort of election is personally meeting as many people as possible.   You need to hang out at the coffee shops and bars to meet the public.  
  • I have run twice for council in this sort of town and I know exactly what my weakness was, I was simply too new to town and not enough people knew me personally.   I came fifth the second time, there are four council positions in Lillooet.  I outspent my competition, I did better than three of the incumbents, but I could not do as well as several long time locals that were running for the first time.  One of them was my neighbour I talked into running.

If you are running in View Royal

  • The election in View Royal have not been heavily contested in the past.   It is also a very, very hard municipality to campaign in because there is no real core and no place the people gather.  You also have no local media to work with.   That said, View Royal has had elections that were acclamations in the past.
  • View Royal turn out was very low last time around, barely more people voted in View Royal than in Highlands even though it has four times as many people.  View Royal has a turn out more like Saanich than like Sooke or Sidney.   This means a lot more people you talk to will not be voting.
  • You need to go door to door and you will need signs, some big ones (8'x4') for the top ten corners is crucial

If you are running for the School Boards

  • All I can ask is why?   They have few real powers, they are really only a rubber stamp for the district superintendent, and they have become a platform for people to fight with the province.   
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