BLOGS: The 5 mistakes Burnaby civic election candidates should avoid

Chris Campbell

A letter to the editor arrived recently in the NOW inbox about the importance of laneway housing.
It was a good letter, but unfortunately it can’t run in the paper because it came from a candidate for the Burnaby Greens.
With just a few months until the Oct. 20 municipal election, the NOW is no longer running letters to the editor from candidates or civic parties until the election has passed.
The letters pages in our print edition and the opinion section on our website are designed for regular folks to express their views on issues and the newspaper itself. It is not an area for politicians and aspiring politicians to use as a free platform for their policies.
I’m writing this so civic candidates understand the ground rules. Candidate questionnaires will be sent to every candidate and the answers will be published online in a specific section for voters to find on our website.
This is the silly season of a municipal election campaign. I’ve seen some crazy stuff in 28 years of covering civic elections. Candidates coming into the office with rulers to show that their candidate profile got X number of inches and another candidate got a single inch more of space. Candidates going 1,000 words over their given word count for their questionnaires and then freaking out because we didn’t print every last word of spun gold. Candidates submitting a blurry headshot to go with their profiles. Candidates whining because we asked them what they do for a living and they don’t want to admit they are unemployed.
I do have sympathy, I really do. For many, it’s their first time wading into politics, and it’s not an easy thing to get noticed.
To help them out, I have a few helpful tips.

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  1. If you submit a platform announcement, make sure you have accurate contact details so we can speak to you.
  2. If you have never attended a council meeting before and think suddenly showing up at them a month before the election makes you an expert, you are wrong. 
  3. Don’t plant a friend or relative in the audience of an all-candidates meeting to lob you a softball question. Everyone will know what you are trying and you’ll look ridiculous.
  4. Stay away from hyperbole. Recently, a Burnaby Greens tweet associated Derek Corrigan’s term in office with a “dictatorship.” That’s silly and just plain insulting to voters who exercised their free democratic rights.
  5. Be organized. When the Burnaby Greens sent out a news release saying they would be making a huge housing platform announcement, they listed the wrong date for the press conference. The NOW showed up, but then-mayoral candidate Joe Keithley didn’t. If you want to convince people you can run a huge city like Burnaby, not knowing how to schedule major announcements isn’t the way to go about it.

Follow editor Chris Campbell @shinebox44

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