What does it take to successfully win a seat in this room? Current, new and past city councilors chime in. Mirror File Photo

What does it take to successfully win a seat in this room? Current, new and past city councilors chime in. Mirror File Photo

So you want to run for a Vancouver Island city council?

New, current and past city councilors chime in on what it takes to win a municipal election

Angry at the state of local government in your community? Your chance to do something about it is only about about 18 months away.

And if there is an idea germinating in the back of your mind that you might want to add your name to the ballot in the 2022 civic elections, well, there is no time like the present to start doing your homework.

Sean Smyth won a seat on Campbell River council in the recent byelection, and he thinks the key to his victory was outreach.

“I went in to all the businesses I could find that were set up for COVID-ness and able to have people just walk in, and just had a chat with the owners,” Smyth says. “A lot of them said that’s never happened before, and I really got to learn more about what the concerns in town are, and then I focused my campaign around those concerns.”

RELATED: Capital Regional District director wants election spending increased

RELATED: Follow the money: presenting what Greater Victoria is paying its top city officials

Smith will fill the seat vacated by Michele Babchuk when she was elected to the provincial legislature, Babchuks thinks the most important thing for candidates to do is be passionate about being involved, and be prepared for the breadth of what the job entails.

“Most people become politically active because there’s a single issue that has spurred them there,” Babchuk says. “But once you get into that stream, it becomes very apparent very quickly that you’re part of a team. You’re one voice of five, or one voice of seven, or whatever that dynamic looks like. I think most people don’t have an idea about the scope of things before they get there.”

Babchuk herself got into politics by running for school trustee, upset over school closures in the district.

“I was single-issue myself back in the day,” she admits. “But once you get on the board and realize there’s a bunch of other issues the board is dealing with and you’re working with a team and figuring out what your spot on that team is and how that team can work together, successful elected people learn how to do that.”

Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams vividly remembers his journey into civil service, which began by joining the city’s development advisory committee. Joining a committee or commission, he thinks, is a great way for potential candidates to familiarize themselves with how things operate at City Hall.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Adams says, “but I showed up at City Hall and was surrounded by all of the movers and shakers of the development industry … and it was a really, really good experience in how to get orientated to what City Hall is and how it operates – or as some people like to say, doesn’t operate.”

Adams also laments, in some ways, that social media has become the main way candidates get the word out about themselves these days, saying it’s best to meet people face-to-face and have a conversation, rather than just putting your thoughts out into the world and hoping they reach people.

“There used to be a lot more meeting people,” Adams says. “Whether it was individually or in small groups or in neighbourhood coffee conversations, it was about finding out what was important to people. You really got a personal one-on-one connection and could hear people’s passion.

“I don’t think you get that in today’s environment in social media. It used to be about getting that face-to-face, where you could look people in the eye and they could look you in the eye and go away and make a decision. That doesn’t happen now. Now it feels much more like a Facebook and Twitter popularity contest.”

Both Adams and Babchuk have the same advice for anyone who was unsucessful last time around: Have another go at it.

“In just 18 months there’s another opportunity,” Adams says. “With the next general election, you’ll have gotten some exposure, you’ve gotten some experience in being able to articulate what your position is … so no matter what the result is, don’t take it as a loss, take it as a learning experience.”

“The reality is that most people don’t get in on their first try,” Babchuk agrees, “and it’s a bit of a commitment to wrap your head around that and accept that if I don’t win this time, yes, I’m going to try again. If you’re going to go through the effort of doing up signs and putting together teams to work on your behalf, you’re already activated, and if you’re not successful the first time, give it another shot.

“Because they now have the experience and know what they’re doing in terms of running in an election, it would be a real waste to see them try once and give up.”

She also thinks that people who want to make a difference take a look around at other ways they can be of service to the public. After all, there are all kinds of boards and agencies that have an impact on the way things are run and direction a community takes.

“I suggest for people not just look at council, but if there are other interests that they have, there are other positions that are fantastic and they’re all very well needed in our community,” Babchuck says.

“I’ve obviously been in the school trustee role, and a city council role and a regional district role and now in my current position (MLA) and each one of those has really given me a world of experience. So I suggest for people not just look at council, but if there are other interests that they have, there are other positions that are fantastic and they’re all very well needed in our community.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverMunicipal election

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vandals burned a hole in the platform at the top of the Somenos Marsh Open Air Classroom early on the morning of Thursday, April 22. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson closes Somenos Marsh viewing platform

Fletcher estimates the damage at more than $5,000.

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

More sleeping cabins for the homeless in the Cowichan Valley could soon be put in place if a $2.5-million grant application to the UBCM Strengthening Communities’ Services funding program is successful. (File photo)
Funding sought to expand homeless initiatives in Cowichan Valley

$2.5-million grant would see more sleeping cabins and outreach projects

The old Stanley Gordon school in Lake Cowichan. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)
Editorial: Old school properties represent potential for our areas

There are opportunities, often sitting right in the middle of our small communities.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read