Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Stop making excuses Lloyd!

From the moment he joined the mayoralty race in Cobourg, Lloyd Williams explicitly states he doubts he can win against incumbent Mayor Peter Delanty.

At first blush, it was easy to interpret as a means of setting expectations  low in the minds of voters. He played to the David and Goliath metaphor, where he was the humble David who was about to square off against the might political machine being run by Delanty. So, it might be considered a tool in the political discourse around the municipal election.

But, when Williams repeated this ploy at the recent all candidates meeting, then the tactic wears a bit thin. As well, several people indicated, he uses the line regularly when talking with voters.

By this point, it is hard to recognize the strategic upside of this approach. The sympathy vote in Cobourg is small. Very small.

If Williams did not want to be mayor, he should not have decided to run. Yet, he did. So, time to suck it up and get down to business. If he continues with his current tactics, he might as well hand the election over to Delanty. Sadly, the mayor is vulnerable. He is weak on several fronts. But, Williams is not capitalizing on it.

Top flight athletes know, 90 per cent of winning is in your head. Williams needs to get his head into the race. With 10 days to go, he needs to sound like a winner and a leader. Otherwise, Delanty is going to blow him away election night.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

here's the lineup

here's the lineup:

Here's the lineup from last night's event. A couple of standouts a couple of duds and and the rest, well the rest.

We left after the first session, as did a lot of other people. I guess that most had only come to see their choices confirmed. Not much fire, the format precluded that, and not much new stuff either. We did learn that Mr McCaughey is very proud of the development at the harbour because he has created a "population" that can sustain the downtown. Others didn't think so. Nobody wanted to talk about payraises - cowards, and all wanted to talk about something that they have no control over - jobs! The only new idea came from Rob Harper, he wants the Town to create a special fund that would allow underprivileged kids to tap into to pay for recreational opportunities - well done. As for the school trustees: one grizzly veteran who knew the issues inside out, one woman who appears to be the perpetual PTA person and a slick neo-con who read every single answer from his crib sheets in response to planted questions. I never thought I say this but Gordon you looked good.

I couldn't go, but here is some good coverage from fellow blogger Ben Burd.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Resigned about signs is a signal

My response to Mr. Berry:

I love this. It is all too true. Did you know I got an email from a candidate responding to a column with a quote from his campaign flyer, WHICH WAS STILL NOT PRINTED. Candidates are disorganized. I swear the signs are going up very slowly. But it may be a sign of the type of candidates were are getting this round. This is not the usual sophisticated politicos with highly organized teams. I think there are quite a few who are just struggling to run. The incumbents will have help. Delanty most likely has a team working with him. I bet there is even a sign committee or a coordinator who just looks after signs. I bet if you checked it out, you would find, he and Brocanier are the only ones. Maybe Williams. McCaughey is another who is likely highly organized and I know he has run campaigns before, not just for himself, but others. Spooner often get some experienced help. In the past, Gary O’Dwyer has done this.

More upsetting than your sign query is the lack of debates. I understand the only one is the Chamber of Commerce, which Loyalist is not broadcasting over the web this time. I have a late night class so it cannot be done. This is most unfair and leaves little chance for voters to see the candidates. This means the campaign is based on signs (which you have pointed out are problematic) and door knocking, or a retail campaign. With the large numbers of voters who will not be home, this reduces the campaign down to a popularity contest, with no room to see or learn who is best.

This is a sad time for democracy.

Lawn signs a bad sign, says one Cobourg resident

Got this email from Cobourg resident Scott Berry:

My kids are asking: Where are the election lawn signs?

Lawn signs - by their very nature - are in fact - a public discussion on issues. So where is the democratic debate? Were is the fertilizer manuer for our lawns?

It’s election time and my kids want to start playing our favorite car game - “cast your vote”. Our tradition come election time is this. When we drive around town everyone picks a candidate and we start counting the signs until we get home.The candidate with the highest sign count gets elected!

Best part is there are no spoiled ballots - unless a heavy wind blows a sign half-off its stake.

It’s a daily education of civics and democracy in the car! And you can switch your candidate every day like Belinda crossing the floor.

But my little deputy returning officers have nothing to do in their mobile polling station! This isn’t just a game we are missing out on - we are losing valuable quality family time.

On a 10 minute drive around town there are only a handful of signs to count. On this basis -this election is to close call. Two minutes in the car - its game over and they’re starting ask - are we there yet??

With manicured lawns the norm in town -(and only one candidate with a naturalized lawn with a sign that barely peeks out from the weeds - sorry meant wild flowers) - I have an unobstructed sight line from my car. So, I can only assume that candidates have abandoned the sign wars strategy this time around.

Where is the value of local government in action if the candidates don’t make the effort to litter our lawns with coreplast signs and wooden stakes?? Where is the character education building opportunity for my children?

I spent a fortune on Chismbop so they could do long-division with their toes and use their fingers for their 9x‘s table! The current game - with four weeks to go and with no name brand presence by candidates means they can do it in their head without a calculator or a pencil. It takes them fewer than the five fingers on their little hand to come up with a total. On this basis, our daily voter turnout works out to be about 5%.

Where’s the challenge - where’s the math skill - where's the fun?

Maybe the times are a changing. Maybe a clean sweep of the recognizable names in Cobourg is in the making? Maybe voters will only be selecting a name on the ballot they don't recognize as the safest choice for change?? . Will voters want to mark an 'X" against only the candidate(s) they don't know or recognize! If so than - the best election strategy for the new crop of candidates in Cobourg is to fly under the radar. The candidate with the weakest campaign team and fewest signs will have the strategic advantage!

No lawn-sign discourse from our candidates or family values in the car? It's a price I would gladly pay.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Burd report provides some useful tools

Former politician and local commentator Ben Burd is providing some really good resources online to help people vote.
He is giving his usual commentary in the Burd Report gives his unique perspective around candidates and various politics in Cobourg. With this, he created an interesting chart called opinion page with a running commentary, bios, and "how it's going'". He is tracking public presence at the moment.
The concern Burd raises about profile is very important. Rookie candidates seem to be slow coming out of the gate. That should not mean the candidate is weak, but what they have not done is break through the public's consciousness. Certainly, going door to door is a major part of any municipal campaign and a vital one. Often called "retail politics" it is seen by many as critical in making the personal connection that gets people's vote.
Yet, in modern politics, particularly with media coverage, having a strong public face is also critical. The best example is Belinda Stronach. While she dropped out of the leadership race for the Liberal Party of Canada, Stronach kept a very public profile over the race. And, while many candidates could not get national press, she was all over front pages and in columns.
Local candidates should take a page from her strategy. Until they break through the public consciousness, either through signage, media coverage, whisper campaigns, water cooler talk, whatever, they are at a disadvantage. This is why so many incumbents win: the name is recognizable.
It is fall. A good time for Burd watching.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Warkworth man seeks nomination for Northumberland PCs

The nomination race for the provincial Northumberland Progressive Conservative Party took another twist as Rob Milligan, a 35-year old man from Warkworth announced his candidacy.
He hopes to push agriculture issues in a campaign and health care.  He is also concerned about job creation, particularly focusing on youth.
This will certainly spice things up in several ways. After David St. Charles dropped out, it began to look like a run off between Cathy Galt, wife of former MPP Doug Galt and Jan Spragge, the business consultant from Port Hope. Carl Eggiman, who lives in Quinte West, has not created a big buzz in the west end of the riding.
Spragge, who seems to be generating a lot of positive buzz in the West end of the county, will face three contenders from the east. This could water down the eastern vote, but if Milligan and Eggimann get behind Galt, she could be a potent force in a "anybody other than Spragge" movement. She will need to build up a strong constituency across the riding if she hopes to defeat such a move.
Seeing how the Conservative treated St. Charles, they are quite prepared to play politics as dirty as it needs to be in order to win.

DBIA chair runs for council

Downtown Business Improvement Association Chairman Berry Drage will seek a seat on Cobourg council, running on a platform advocating more openness in local government.
Drage, 45, who ran for the public school board and council in the past, hopes to hold a series of informal drop-in style meetings to find out what voters want on the agenda for the next four years. If elected, he promises to continue this practice with an "open house" style meetings where questions and answers would take place after an executive session of council.
Another plus, Drage says, is his age. At 45, he is one of the younger candidates and a lot younger than most of the current council members. He says this generation is not well represented on council.
Drage ran unsuccessfully in the last election, but hopes time spent volunteering and raising his profile in the community will help him this time.

Environmentalist joins race for Cobourg council

A self-professed environmentalist entered the race for Cobourg council, saying she is concerned about the rapid expansion of the town.
Judi McAllister, 63, is a part-time dietary aid at the Golden Plough Lodge and is a member of the Cobourg Labour Council, an organization made up of unions and labour groups in the town.
She is worried about growth occurring too quickly and the lack of sufficient infrastructure. She pointed to the increase in traffic around the town as an example. An avid cyclist, McAllister said roads need to be repaired and more bike paths should be created to encourage motorists to leave their cars at home.
This will bring an importance issue to the forefront. With McAllister running for council, she will be able to ensure environmental issues will not be ignored. While other candidates may have positions on this vital issue, having someone with this high level of interest will mean those seeking office who wish to fluff off environmental concerns will not get an easy ride.
It was refreshing to also see how she handled questions around policing and the seniors' centre. Many people running for office tend to respond off the cuff to some issues only as a way to make it look like they are knowledgeable about a host of issues, Instead, McAllister took admitted she has not formed any position on these two significant issues.