Those of you who read my articles regularly will know that I took a hiatus from writing about leadership and delivery topics over the past couple of months to focus on my first time campaign running for one of the city councilor seats in Welland. Election day was this past Monday (October 24) and unfortunately, while I received a fair number of votes, it was not enough to unseat one of the two incumbents in my ward.
Back in July, while planning for the campaign, I’d written a series of articles on the approach I’d taken to manage this project. In my final article, I’d covered the delivery and outcome risks I’d identified and addressed and will provide an update on these as well as to share what I learned through the experience.
The delivery risks I’d identified related to increased costs of campaign materials or delays in procuring these materials were never realized as there were multiple providers of signs, flyers and other marketing products. My concern about falling afoul of election or sign bylaws was also not realized as I was careful to follow the rules. Some of the other candidates appeared to violate sign bylaws but I was not aware of their experiencing any consequences for this behavior. The final delivery risk I identified about residents not meeting me when I visited their homes was partially realized. While I did try to schedule my canvassing times for when most residents would be home, I’d estimate that at least 50% of my door knocks went un-answered either because the residents were out or they were “door screening”.
I’d identified two outcome risks – one related to a low voter turnout and the second related to an inability to convince residents to vote for me.
Unfortunately, in spite of all candidates (myself included) and city staff heavily promoting the importance of voting in the municipal elections, Welland had the lowest voter turnout (25%) of all municipalities in the Niagara region. The city staff had provided multiple early voting dates, the ability for residents to vote at any of the eight polling stations across the city on election day, and free public transit access for residents who didn’t have transportation to get to a polling station. The weather was sunny and warm on election day and polls were open till 8 PM.
No one knows what the root cause was for the low turnout, although an article in our local newspaper did offer that it might due to voter fatigue given that we did have federal and provincial elections within the past year. I’m not convinced that this is THE primary cause but it was likely a contributing factor.
Official voting statistics have not been published for my ward but based on the total number of votes cast for the four councilor candidates and the assumption that the vast majority of voters chose to vote for two candidates, our voting percentage was also just below 25%.
As far as the second risk goes, based on the assumption of most voters picking two councilor candidates, I calculate that just under a third of voters from my ward voted for me. Unfortunately, a larger percentage would have picked one of the other three candidates as their first or second choices. Similarly, if I based voting percentage on the number of residences I visited, it works out to just under a third. While I would have liked to have had more voters pick me, if more residents had voted, I feel my odds of winning would have been improved.
In the final article of this series, I’ll share what I learned through my campaign which I could apply should I choose to run in the next municipal election.
(If you liked this article, why not pick up my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca as well as a number of other online book stores)