Rhino's Ramblings: ...And They're Off

Robert Thomas

Well whether we like it or not the Civic Byelection campaign is in full swing but, sadly, so far it’s a bit of a sleeper with the candidates, for the most part, hidden.

I have yet to see a sign, a brochure or even a social media post showing a candidate out knocking on doors. It’s almost like they are in suspended animation hoping to be noticed.

Let me tell you, if you want to be elected you had better be prepared to get out and meet people or your race is over even before you have begun.

There are more than a few people out there who will tell you that it is name recognition which counts. There are more than a few books written about Canadian civic politics which back this fact up.

And given the fact that the byelection is likely to have a very low voter turnout the way to do it is to get out there with a brochure and start knocking on doors to let people know you are running. And also, more importantly, to let them know there is even a byelection happening at all as it is not known by many people in this city.

Over the past few days I have been personally asked questions; one is people wanting to know when the byelection is and another: Have I ever met the candidates.

I’m fairly well known in the coffee circuit that includes five strategically placed restaurants. I am also, age-wise, in the same demographic as most voters and nope I don’t hang out with the business owners or the movers and shakers crowd, so I get a different feel than most. I keep getting asked what Iknow about them? Who are they? Have I met them? What are my impressions? And even who I would personally vote for?

Many potential voters are completely lost so far, when it comes to this race.

So here is my advice to candidates and that is to get out there with your brochures and clipboards; write questions and concerns down and start knocking on doors. Make sure you not only have your brochures but also know where the voting locations and times are because many people you speak to are going to ask you and you had better be able to tell them.

And if you get a question from a voter you cannot answer make sure you write down the voter's address and see if you can find the answer and get back to them. You are likely to get a vote or two out of it if you take the effort.

Do not think there is going to be a televised forum on Shaw TV 10 because without Russ McKnight here to organize it, I'm sorry to say it’s not happening. It’s too late now to book it.

At the present time I know of no other plans to hold an impartial forum of any sort although one of the local special interest or advocacy groups might decide to do so. But with that said, at this time, it’s highly unlikely to be happening. Time is too limited to get it organized.

The only way that you, as a candidate, are going to be able to get your name out there is by knocking on doors and speaking directly to the voters.

Advertising might well be helpful but please remember you need to choose the right medium for your message and if you want a real bang for your buck make sure you address the right issue.

One thing you also need to remember is when the advance polls are. as in all likelihood a good portion of the voters you can reach by advertisements will vote then. In this election the best strategy might well be putting a lot into ads first in the advertiser-friendly Moose Jaw Express for the advance polls , this will help reach the seniors who read that paper. In all likelihood this is where the election could be decided.

If you choose to advertise online do it later. The odds are you will get a better bang for your buck plus you can tailor your message to two separate groups of voters.

Now if it was myself, and I only had a small advertising budget, I would aim to advertise in The Express as it’s likely the seniors are going to be the most diligent and active voters this time around. In a byelection without a major issue, and little expected voter interest, the odds are that the senior vote could carry a lot of force this election.

Sorry, I cannot advise you as to what format MJ Independent is going to be taking when it comes to ads. It's not my department. I simply write and I don;t pander to advertisers, it’s as simple as that.

One good way might be a short advertorial which links back to your site, that's where you can tell online voters more about yourself. But once again I do caution that online advertising in Moose Jaw civic elections is still very much in its infancy.

Regardless, having a website or a Facebook page for your campaign would be very helpful and help you tailor and control your own image and message. How you chose to lay it out is totally up to you.

One thing I am also asked about from time to time is my online newsletter and how to get access to it. Well really I can tell you it is basically just links to stories and other sources of information I think my just 500 or so readers would be interested in. And I don’t accept advertising it’s just something I send out.

It just makes it easier for seniors and others to click on the links and get to the story. The non Facebook crowd love it.

It’s sort of like some of my longer Council stories, they aren’t really written in true news story fashion. They’re written longer because many people tell me they want to see most of what is said – the good, the bad and the ugly, so they can make up their own minds.

They aren’t designed for the Likes, Shares or Comments that come with the world of Facebook but rather they are written for the silent majority who never comment but want to know. The hardcore Council followers out there.

With that said, all candidates start your engines and let’s get down to some serious campaigning. Break out the brochures and start knocking on doors. And with that, good luck!!!

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