Pulling Back the Curtain on My Campaign (Or: How to Run for Office on Less Than $500)

photo (2)

My baby kissing strategy tested poorly with babies and was quickly abandoned.

With just a couple of days left before Nelson goes to the polls on Saturday, November 15, I want to take this opportunity to pull back the curtain on how I ran my campaign. For the most part it’s been pretty non-traditional.

I didn’t knock on a single door.

Nor did I crack the voter’s list supplied by the city for the purpose of making phone calls to people’s homes.

I get that these methods have been a staple for campaigns since doors and phones were invented, but personally, I don’t like being on the receiving end of unsolicited visits or phone calls. Unless you’re a kid selling cookies, I don’t really want to get into a conversation with you at my door while dinner burns on the stove. None of my friends do either.

I also didn’t do brochures. But in this instance, it was more of a budget issue. As in… there was no budget for brochures. This was definitely one thing I would try and do differently if I could turn back the clock and do it all over again.

And as for signs… I’ve never been a huge fan of the usual signs you see during election season, so I took a different tack and made my own out of shipping pallets that I found in alleys (with the permission of business owners, of course). It only took me a Sunday to hammer them together, and then an afternoon with Buck D. Addams to stencil them.


So enough about what I didn’t do. What DID I do?

I tried to get out to as many events as I could, but as a working parent with two young kids, there was only so much I could do on this front. So I focused most of my energy into campaigning online, which I could do during the day and at night, when my kids were either in school or asleep.

I wanted to give voters a strong sense of where I stand on issues, so I wrote in-depth blog posts on topics ranging from the police budget and affordable housing, to economic development and civic involvement. I then used social media to push these posts out and engage in discussions.

I have to say, this worked even better than I had hoped. My top two blog posts have had more than 800 views each, and they’ve been shared on Facebook more than 300 times, which means they must have sparked loads of discussion on people’s walls. My hope is that these discussions moved beyond people’s screens and were carried on over dinners and coffees and fences.

Admittedly, this approach has been a bit of a social experiment to see if I could short-circuit old campaigning methods and still be successful come election day. We’ll see if this approach translates into votes on Saturday.

How much did I spend?

As for my budget, here’s a preliminary estimate of my revenues and expenses, which as you can see are considerably lower than what most council candidates spent in the 2011 election.

To date I’ve received the following donations:

Dale Butterfeld – $25
Jill Beaulieu – $40
Norm Yanke – $17
Patti Petrowski – $100
Sue Adams – $50
Tammy Everts – $75

Total – $307

My expenses so far:

Graphic design (Facebook banner, button design, spray paint and sign painting) – $105
Buttons – $103
Website – $55
Facebook post boosts – $164
Signs – $40 in nails, stain, roller head

Total – $467 (This will likely increase by about another $30 before Saturday.)

So we’ll see how things go on Saturday, November 15. I hope you come out to vote — if not for me, then for the candidates you think will best serve our community. You can vote for all six, or as few as you may feel represent your interests. For more information on how you can vote, check out http://elections.nelson.ca/voters.html

And if you’d still like to donate, you can find out how to do that here.