Here is yet another municipal election. We have a number of fresh faces, and a number of the same-old faces. Here are a few tips based on observations I’ve seen:
1. Know your demographic: old people
They have the highest turnout rate of any municipal election. They don’t know how to use a computer and the only way you’ll reach them is by knocking on their door. Make sure you promise enough things that they will like. This is probably where most of your votes will come from.
2. Know your demographic: Young people
The next highest turnout rate is young people. They are the ones using social media. You’ll need to reach out to them. And by reach out, I don’t mean just getting on social media, you’ll need to find people and encourage them to share your message. Easier said than done.
The other great challenge you’ll have with them is that they are disillusioned with politics. You are going to need to convince them that you will actually change things for the better.
3. Don’t be vague.
I’ve been looking at a number of campaign web sites. I don’t see a lot of details. I see things like “I believe in a strong downtown” and “I believe in transparency”. What exactly are you going to do to “strengthen” downtown? Change the zoning to allow taller buildings? Tax breaks for high density residential buildings? Diagonal parking? Elections for other levels of government usually have very specific promises. Municipal elections should be the same.
4. Fredericton is behind the times. Use that to your advantage.
Big city trends usually take a few years before they trickle down to places like Fredericton. For us, this is not a bad thing. This gives us the ability to look into the future. This is especially important when it comes to things like housing trends. Larger cities are seeing younger people want to move to higher density neighbourhoods where they will be able to walk to many of the places they want to go. Make sure your voters are aware of this and how it will benefit them (hint: lower taxes)
5. You won’t be able to stop sprawl.
The previous paragraph mentioned a trend to move to the cities. This will not stop sprawl. It will slow it down, but you can’t stop it. If you do manage to get elected, any attempts at stopping sprawl will just push it out of city limits. This will mean that you double-failed as you will decrease city revenues while increasing air pollution. Nobody wants that.
Oh, and if you make it seem like car-owning suburban single-family home dwellers are the enemy, you won’t get elected. Remember Toronto? Please don’t make that mistake (not that I’m saying that any of the current candidates are anywhere close to Rob Ford).