THE 2010 MUNICIPAL election has become more exciting with David Miller’s announcement that he will not seek re-election.
Before, it looked like the next election would consist of candidates with high name recognition competing to replace him.
Each challenging candidate would expound on why Mr. Miller needed to be defeated and what was wrong with the direction in which Toronto was heading. Now the dynamic will be very different.
Already, with 13 months to go before voting day, there is heightened interest and competitors are coming out of the woodwork.
There is greater willingness and increased chance in the minds of those who would wish to be mayor when the incumbent factor is removed. It usually results in a larger slate, which is a great way to build excitement and participation.
Any individual who actually registers to run in the election shows commitment and courage. Campaigning to win requires energy, a supportive team and money. Some wait for the right time, when they stand the best chance of success, and others go for it despite the odds — because circumstances compel them.
There are questions that each candidate should ask himself or herself: Am I able to provide leadership? Do I understand what the priorities are? Am I prepared to commit the time, energy and money to win this election? Can I attract a team who can raise the funds for a credible campaign?
I believe that the early bird gets the worm. It’s important to organize your support and strategy well in advance. A good offence is the best defence.
By expressing your intentions early, it effectively reduces the number of competitors. Fundraising can be more difficult if like-minded candidates are tapping the same circles. Positive name recognition is an asset. Previous scandals, baggage and poor judgment can seriously jeopardize the outcome.
Campaign workers usually volunteer their time. In a mayoralty bid, certain key roles that demand full-time hours and expertise are often paid positions.
These include a campaign manager and chairs of policy and fundraising, canvassing and signs.
Office managers, a scheduler, a CFO and a driver are vital. It’s extremely important to have an advisory group whose guidance can be provided to steer the campaign and keep it on message.
The first week of January is the time to register. At this point the campaign officially begins, and one can legally begin to fundraise.
The fundraising goal should be $1.3 to $1.5 million, which allows you to buy media, to mount a professional attempt to reach voters. The easiest way to accumulate these funds would be if in a well-connected group each member committed to raising a portion of this. The maximum donation of a private individual is $2,500. It’s important to hold well-publicized events to build momentum. The Internet has added a new dimension to campaigning.
Barack Obama enjoyed a high number of small donations from grassroots supporters through it.
A mayoralty candidate needs to be strategic about time. It’s a long, vigorous campaign, and one cannot peak or burn out too early.
A typical day begins with interviews, visits to organized events and many types of speaking venues. Earned media is a free bonus and can be used to broadcast the message. The schedule needs to be flexible because it will change.
Personal time needs to be protected for family, exercise and rest. It’s an exhilarating experience to compete for the prize of leading Toronto. Ideas and advice will be offered, but in the end, it’s the candidate’s own sense of judgment or lack of it that will prevail. The 2010 election should focus on who can win the trust and confidence of voters and can work urgently on positive solutions to move Toronto forward.
Post City Magazines’ political columnist, Jane Pitfield, was a Toronto city councillor for eight years. She is now involved in several volunteer projects.