Sunday, October 19, 2014

From the Campaign Trail

Instant Oatmeal and 10 Second Clips!
What do they have in common?

Now that I am a candidate, I of course have to be very cautious with my approach to reporting on my blog, as I don't want to be giving myself an advantage of some kind as I am not a third party sponsor.

That said, what I am quickly learning is that our whole system (which society seems to have created) makes it very challenging for any of us to make any kind of truly informed decisions about the candidates we are putting in charge of our city for the next four years.

There are 10 Mayoral candidates and 26 Council candidates, some names familiar and some unknowns throwing their hats into the ring for the city council seats to be decided on Nov. 15. Anyone willing to put themselves into the arena should have all of our gratitude and respect.

10 Second Clips

In about four weeks time all of these candidates have to try and convince thousands of Nanaimo residents they are the right folk for the job. This is where the incumbent have an edge as they have held the job for at least the last three years and some considerably longer. The place where that edge gets lost will depend on how many unpopular decisions they have made, and how long the electorates' memory is. As a candidate I intend to draw attention to some of those decisions, but as the author of this blog I must refrain.

So far a group in Nanaimo called Progressive Nanaimo has hosted two new candidates forums at Beban Park which has given new candidates a chance to get in front of some of the electorate. The last meeting was attended by 200+ interested voters. This group is to be commended for their involvement in the process and their desire to make a difference in voter involvement.

That said at the first meeting candidates had 3 minutes to introduce themselves and 60 seconds to answer some questions. The second meeting allowed 90 seconds for introduction and then a bit of a free-for-all format allowing voters to ask questions of the candidates.

The local cable company is allowing candidates to tape a 2 minute clip to help introduce themselves, the Bulletin is allowing a 500 word profile submission and that is about it for methods of getting known among a sea of candidates.

So, in four short weeks Nanaimo residents will be charged with electing a board of directors to guide our $200,000,000 corporation for the next four years. The tools available to candidates include:

Signs - (probably turn off as many as they turn on) but a necessary evil if you are fighting for name recognition. Remember the incumbent have been on the telly and in the papers for at least the last three years.

Candidates forums - which basically are nearly pointless as each candidate may get 5 minutes to convince you how wonderful they are.

Websites - are becoming one of the more productive ways for candidates to get there messages across. They can contain as little or as much information as you want, they can contain audio and video messaging and they are always available when the voters wish to look at them. In short they are becoming a very effective tool in the battle for a council seat.

Media Ads - the local media will sell you as much space as your sponsors can afford, which for some candidates runs into the thousands of dollars getting their message across. Of course, most voters realize the information in a paid advertisement is totally biased and should certainly not carry the weight of a proper interview conducted by a reporter, which seems to be a thing of the past as instant oatmeal and 10 seconds clips seem to be all the nourishment we seem to crave these days.



  1. If you are going to say "I" in a piece, identify yourself at least at the beginning. That said, as a newcomer (last November) to Nanaimo it is hard to determine who is who in the election. How many councillors do we elect? (my guess is 8). Why do we not elect representatives by ward, which would make it easier to focus? Same with school trustees. I appreciate your blog (even though I had not heard of it before the September Progressive Nanaimo meeting). Good luck.

  2. Good point the "I" is Jim Taylor. We elect 8 councillors and one Mayor and getting meaningful information is truly a challenge. The print media will soon be the source of submitted profiles and the like and there will likely be a couple of candidate forums which offer some opportunity to get to know candidates. Some people are of the opinion that if there are not 8 candidates you wish to see hold office, you should cast your ballot only for those you know and believe are wise choices.

    Nanaimo used to have a ward system which was changed many years ago. Whether it would now provide better governance is a discussion I do think we should be having, however, it will have to be after the next election. I hope you find my blog helpful as I have been paying attention to city hall for the past 6 years and provide some information you are not likely to find in the mainstream media.

    I am always pleased to learn of citizens who are participating in the process, which is the only way to get good government. Last election only 26.9% of the electorate actually voted, I am of the opinion that voting is not simply a privilege but it is our civic duty.

    Speech is over.


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