Out in the community

It’s been really exciting to get out into the community this week and start door knocking in earnest. The couple of years of significant COVID restrictions happening in the middle of this term has been the hardest part of my time on council. I have missed being able to easily reach our constituents and have at times felt disconnected from the community. It’s great to be back hearing from people one on one.

When I ran for my first term I knew that the biggest thing that I wanted to accomplish was to meet as many folks as possible. I knew that I had good ideas that I wanted to share, but that there were lots of people in the community who hadn’t met me yet. So I knocked on literally thousands of doors and had hundreds of great conversations with citizens. They got to hear what I was about and I learned about what our community members value about Oak Bay. I still reflect on what I heard four years later.

This time around, of course things are a bit different. I’m an incumbent, have a record on council to stand on (of which I’m proud) and folks generally know my name and my face (even if it’s been primarily as a floating Zoom head the last couple years). I’m happy that people generally identify me as a progressive and sustainability oriented councillor which they’ve seen reflected in my voting record. So I’ve put a lot of thought into how I wanted to approach campaigning this time and came up with a new strategy:

Actually, I’m not changing much at all.

I love the time spent on doorsteps and I want to be out there earning your vote. So you can count on me to be spending a bunch of time pounding the pavement across the whole district. And an experience today reminded me of exactly why that’s important. 

A man came to his door; I introduced myself and explained why I was there. He very clearly indicated to me right up front, in no uncertain terms, that he would not be interested in voting for me. He took the time to clearly lay out why this was so and I listened. He was extraordinarily polite and balanced in his comments and I came away with a lot of stuff to think about, not least of which was how grateful I was for his candour and the completely friendly (if difficult) conversation we had. Being out in the community as an incumbent isn’t just about speaking to what I’ve gotten done and where I’d like to see us go – it’s also about hearing where people feel I’ve gotten it wrong. I’m still proud of my track record and focused on continuing good work if I’m fortunate enough to be given a second term, but getting these opportunities to reflect on assumptions and blind spots helps me do a better job. Sometimes, you get as much out of a conversation where someone doesn’t support you as one where they do.

Look forward to seeing you out there. If you’d be interested in coming along with me and volunteering on a canvass, please reach out through my website!       

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