Register as a candidate here’s how
My advice on why and how to run for for public office
(Opinion written for Town Crier Jan. 7)
I have a confession.
I don’t have the stomach to run for politics. Not that anyone, other than casual observers, has asked me.
People ask if I’d run as I have a passion for politics. I love writing about how issues impact people’s lives, the drama, the personalities and the elections. This is way better than reality TV.
Okay, so maybe you don’t share my news junkie mentality when it comes to politics. Or maybe you are more political than you realize …
Maybe, like my father, decades removed from his protest rally days, your city hall beef is you don’t want parking rules changed on your street or want to slow down vehicles from bombing down the road? Sometimes it is just one issue that makes us take notice of our government.
Ask people who have waited too long for a bus, driven over another pothole, fear crime in their community, had their garbage collection missed (remember the summer strike), their property taxes raised, are in need of social housing, subsidized daycare or are fighting to stop a development next door and you’ll get an earful of political commentary.
But the city’s 10-month election campaign makes it hard to spark public interest until closer to the vote Oct. 25.
However, in the first week of January some high profile candidates started registering and politicians announcing retirements or re-election plans.
Case Ootes he won’t run. Jane Pitfield is trying for a comeback. John Tory isn’t running for mayor. George Smitherman resigned as MPP to seek the
city’s top job.
And hey, there’s still time for you to gather up your $100 and register as a council candidate. Go to the city’s site http://app.toronto.ca/vote2010/index.jsp to see the candidates already registered and check out the competition.
Now I’d like to offer some advice to any candidate running in the city’s election.
My counsel is based on eight years experience writing about municipal politics, interviewing candidates, following campaigns and
covering elections at all three levels of government.
Candidates should think of the campaign as a long job interview process where the media asks questions on behalf of the public, who essentially hire
candidates with their votes on election day.
This means candidates should be able to articulate why they are running, what skills they’d bring to the job, what issues they will fight for and
where they stand on key matters.
They need to be media friendly. This includes having a high resolution photo of themselves that can be emailed to media, a reliable contact number for interviews and (for those with the money) a campaign office, website, and press releases on key campaign issues and events.
Plus candidates need a public profile and this means using social media to network and raise their name recognition. A blog, website, twitter,
Facebook, YouTube and so on are all relatively inexpensive ways for candidates to get their message and face out there.
I think it is essential if candidates have some grassroots experience.
Ideally this would mean paid work or volunteering with community groups and having contacts with potential supporters and the very public candidates
plan to serve if elected. It is hard to convince voters you want to represent them when you have never fought along side them or for them on any issue.
The public needs confidence you can do the job.
Then knock on doors, attend events, hold meet and greets and do whatever it takes to shake hands, talk to people and ask for their vote.
For those running, I wish you luck. You have my respect for participating in the democratic process. And for the rest of us — please vote Oct. 25.