Unless you are running for Mayor, you are not a media priority
We once asked a prominent Winnipeg news reporter why the news didn’t cover city councillor candidates in a prior civic election; the answer provided was not what we expected; it was pretty eye-opening to hear that from a reporter; fast forward to 2022, and little has changed.
Candidates are trying their best to get their names out to the voters. If they are running in a ward with an incumbent, they have the monumental task of trying to unseat that councillor. “Unseating a sitting councillor is not an easy job.”
They have more name recognition, have already sent out brochures to voters, and bought up bus benches and recycling bins well before the election started, using ward funds, all legal within their role as a councillor.
With less than 45 days until voting, candidates and their team should have already completed their first round of knocking on every door within the ward, including apartments. And when a voter sees the candidate at the door, they would have already received their first piece of campaign literature about the candidate in their mailbox.
This information is crucial, as candidates get a first-hand account of supporters, undecided voters and those loyal to the incumbent. The campaign will use this information to generate a condensed list of doors to skip in the second round of door-knocking. And again, for the campaign’s third pass, any planned phone banks, and most importantly, to drop off the identified voter reminder door hangers the night before the election.
The answer to why city councillor candidates are not covered in the news as stated by a local Winnipeg reporter “they are not important.” It’s a bit of a pill to swallow, but candidates need to look at it from a business standpoint of the press, all though it’s not an opinion we necessarily agree is correct.
City councillor candidates, do not command the same media attention as those running for Mayor. They are not announcing policies weekly, nor will they be a part of any televised debates. Unless they are caught up in some juicy scandal, said something outrageous to a voter, or posted racist, homophobic or controversial content on their social network, they’re not going to get media coverage.
One exception, around a couple of days leading up to the election, candidates may get a story written about them by a community newspaper. Still, by then, their constituents likely have already voted early or decided which candidate they are supporting.
No one can tell the story of why a candidate is running for city councillor better than the candidate. Any opportunity a candidate can be afforded to write the story they want their voters to read in the form of an Op-Ed, they should take it!
This is important because they can use the moment to persuade voters why they are the best choice to represent the ward for the next four years and beyond. Voters are always looking for a change, and even though an incumbent has a leg up, they can lose their seat.
The better candidate does not always win, but the best-organized candidate whose message reaches more voters will usually come out on top. As a candidate, you should feel you have done everything possible to win your election because the incumbent is doing everything possible to ensure you never win. In their mind, you are the person trying to take away their income and lifestyle that comes with being a councillor.
We will leave you with a quote from a retired elected official.
“I have a cushy job that pays me six figures a year, a full pension, and work freedom. A job that gives me summers and holidays off, and comes with a lot of power. I’m never giving this job up without a fight.”