Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Learning a Lesson

Attacks and Counter-Attacks

There is an interesting back and forth commentary going on that is something every candidate and voter should pay attention to in ward 18. It involves showing raw and unedited just how what kind of person a candidate is and what it's like to run as a candidate for political office.

That person in this case is me.

The location of this commentary is at two sites in particular:
What it shows is how a voter and a candidate interact when there is such fundamental difference in political views. It shows how running for political office means candidates not only put out for all to see their views, ideas and concerns - but also their flaws, weaknesses and strengths. It shows how this world of online anonymity can mean anyone can take pot shots at people without fearing consequences. It shows how real, gut-level reactions can get you in trouble or 'score you points'.

The lesson I learned - and probably will keep learning - is that I can no longer respond like a 'normal person'., at least while running for political office or holding it. I cannot look at what I say as affecting only me and the person I say it to. I cannot assume what occurs will only have consequences to that limited transaction, but may affect many others. I must channel my response in a fashion that neither ignores the situation before me, nor inflames it with unintended consequences. This is a lesson, incidentally, that I see even politicians with many years' experience still struggling with. All you have to do is watch any city council session!

Another lesson: Just by running as an idependent does not give you any 'get out of jail free' card. Just because you don't belong to a label of NDP, Liberal, Conservative, Green or whatever... this doesn't mean you have don't some base set of ideologies and a clear set of beliefs and values. The positives of independents is that they are not overtly beholden to any organization that could demand they put the needs of the label before the needs of the voters. Independents don't have to rise and vote yes or no as a 'Miller-left' group or 'Ford-Minnan-Wong' group at council.

Yet, independents - just as much as party-labelled councillors, must still be a voice for ALL the constituents. Whoever is elected must represent EVERYONE, whether they voted for them or not.

ELECTION LAWS - What Candidates Can and Cannot Do

Election Signs - always contentious in every election I have ever seen. Some try to post where they are not allowed (public property, on trees, etc), some try to post too early (July 27 okay for campaign office, Oct 4 for elsewhere). Some wards and elections have seen signs vandalized or stolen. Some believe the number of signs erected equals support for that candidate (even when many will erect a sign because they are being polite, still aren't sure if they will vote - or even if they WILL vote). On election day, many try to sneak them as close or onto election polling stations as they can. Name recognition and colour code recognition counts.

They are costly. First candidates have to pay the city a $250 deposit (where fine money will come from first, kind of like the now illegal landlord's 'damage deposit'). Then you have the cost of getting them done....

* Side story here: The moment I registered, I was flooded with emails from Councillor Howard Moscoe or his wife? Gloria to buy signs from them. I'm pretty sure this happened even when only the city had my private information. Aside from obvious conflict of interest and questions about privacy of data I give the city, I was suprised to be so inundated. For lowest price weatherboard signs at a minimum 500 quantity order = $2.08 for 2 colour, $3.03 each for 3 colour. Hmmmm.... around a $1,500 commitment including taxes and stuff...No wonder some candidates choose only 2 colour, like Kevin Beaulieu's BLUE/WHITE combination (? Hey. I thought ORANGE was for NDP? Then again, maybe jumping on a conservative Ford-like colour is good strategy).

I've already seen people on twitter complaining about election signs. Guess it will continue until everyone knows and abides by the rules.

FYI If you have a complaint about election signs, you can register it with the city by calling 311 or by emailing them at: They need complainant's name and contact, candidate sign name, location, details, etc or they will ignore complaints.